Fans get opening night 'slice of Americana' as Cottage View Drive-In opensThe lineup kicking off Cottage View’s 47th season was “The Hunger Games” and “Wrath of the Titans.”
By: Scott Wente, South Washington County Bulletin
Mike and Patti Sobolewski want to savor their slice of Americana.
The Sobolewskis, of Prescott, were second in line when the gates of the Cottage View Drive-In opened Friday for the first time this year, which the owner says will be the theater’s final season.
“It’s just a slice of Americana,” Mike said before he and wife Patti joined a couple hundred people parked below the big screen for opening night. “It could be its last year and that’s a shame.”
The lineup kicking off Cottage View’s 47th season was “The Hunger Games” and “Wrath of the Titans.”
But movies are only part of the Cottage View's attraction, said Dan Lundgren, of Rockport, and Cottage Grove resident Melanie Stoehr. They were first in line to get in Friday and plan many return trips this summer.
“It’s the experience,” Lundgren said as he and Stoehr tossed a Frisbee before the movie. “It’s the event of going.”
Stoehr said she’s been going to the Cottage View for about 15 years. She said she’ll miss it if it’s sold and Walmart builds a Supercenter store on the drive-in property.
“I don’t think it’s necessary,” she said of bulldozing the local landmark for a big-box retailer.
Cottage View owner Gerry Herringer has a purchase agreement pending with Walmart and has said 2012 will be the drive-in’s final run.
Cottage View will be open Fridays and Saturdays throughout the summer and into the fall, said Cottage View manager Ed Stofferahn.
“We hope for good movies. We hope for good weather. We hope for good crowds," Stofferahn said.
Opening night was a good start. The drive-in lot slowly filled as theater-goers went about their well-rehearsed pre-movie routines: kids tossed footballs and baseballs and played tag; lawn chairs were set up and truck tailgates were dropped to provide ideal outdoor viewing; people grilled burgers and roasted marshmallows while others waited patiently for the sun to set and the opening credits to roll.
As cars streamed into the drive-in lot, Mann Theaters employee Ian Constable flipped switches to illuminate the drive-in’s quaint sign along Highway 61.
Constable, 19, is starting his fifth year working at the theater. It’s a short jaunt from home: he lives in the neighborhood behind the drive-in’s large screen.
“It’s the best job in the world,” Constable said as the sign’s lights buzzed above him.