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Sparta drive-in theater offers entertainment option

By: Lisa Hobbs -- Reporter for the Southern Standard

Makynlee Sims and Aubrey Hollars get ready to enjoy the view from the back of a pickup.

(Photo by Lisa Hobbs)

From nostalgia to necessity. Drive-in movies offer a safe activity for families seeking a night out during the pandemic.

Sparta Drive-in is available Fridays and Saturdays. Gates open at 6 p.m. and shows start at dusk. 

“This is our first time at a drive-in,” said Makynlee Sims, who traveled from Livingston with her boyfriend, Aubrey Hollars. “It’s kind of exciting to watch a movie under the stars.”

The couple drove approximately an hour on July 17 to watch a double feature: “Pet Sematary” and “Friday the 13th.” 

Hollars says the trip was out of necessity.

“There’s nothing to do in Livingston,” said Hollars. “It’s even worse now with COVID-19 so we came here to the drive-in.” 

While horror movies aren’t his favorite, they are hers. 

“I love horror movies,” said Sims.

While these two were nestled in the back of a pickup with blankets, pillows, radio, popcorn and soda to enjoy their movie under the stars, other patrons brought lawn chairs and blankets. 

Currently, there are 325 drive-in movie theaters in the United States and Tennessee has 13 of those. 

“Because of the pandemic, movies are not new releases,” said William Brown, owner of Sparta Drive-in. “We’re showing older movies. This weekend, its horror movies. Tomorrow night (July 18) we’re showing ‘The Shining’ followed by ‘Annabelle.’ Business has been a little slow, but people seem to love older movies.”

The pandemic has required a few changes. 

“It hasn’t been easy, but we’re making it work,” said Brown. “We urge people to stay 6 feet away from other groups. We have markers on the ground leading into the concessions building to keep people and groups 6 feet apart and a limited number of people are allowed in the concessions building at one time.”

The concession stand still offers a wide variety including hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwich, chicken nuggets, fries, popcorn, desserts, nachos and cheese, etc. 

Admission for children 3-and-under is free, children age 4-11 $4, and age 12 and up $8. For those who do not bring their own, radio rental is $3. Cash and credit/ debit cards only for admission and concessions. Checks not accepted. Rain or shine the show must go on. 

Sparta Drive-in is located at 220 Roberts Matthews Highway. For movie listings or more information call 931-739-8000 or visit the theater on its Facebook page.

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