Campaign underway to save the Tri-Way Drive-In Theatre - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Campaign underway to save the Tri-Way Drive-In Theatre

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There aren't many left, and now a Michiana Drive-in could be in danger of becoming a statistic.

The Tri-Way Drive-in has been a staple in Plymouth for decades, but the owner says a big change is ahead and he's not sure the theatre can keep up.

From the business's website:

It is project that at the end of 2013, 35 mm film which we use to show our movies, will no longer exist. To stay in business means to convert to digital projectors at the costs of roughly $75,000.00 per screen. So the total cost of conversion for the Tri-Way Drive-In Theatre to stay in business in its present state will be about $300,000.00. Various ways to help save the Tri-Way Drive-In Theatre will be made available in the upcoming months. Your support is greatly needed. Stay tune for further details.

The Tri-Way Drive-in has been projecting movies onto the big screen since the early 1950's.
It's been in owner David Kinney's family since the beginning and he took it over in 1985.  "We've added three more screens. You can watch a variety of movies, there's something for everyone," Kinney says.
 
The drive-in isn't just about movies.  There's a playground, miniature golf course, and restaurant.  Families truly enjoy the experience.  "We like to go there with friends and when we do we take a big group and hang out, it's fun for the kids," says Shelley Delee of Plymouth.

"It's a wonderful place to go, very family oriented. We like to get the pajamas on the kids and if they fall asleep, it's ok. Then the husband and I can enjoy our movie," says Emily Kershner of Plymouth.

But all of that could come to an end if Kinney can't raise the $300,000 needed to convert to digital by the end of the year. That money will pay for a digital projector, server and modifications to the sound system. The booth will also have to be modified and heated and cooled every day, even during the winter, to take care of the equipment.  "If we're not converted to digital at the cost of 75,000 dollars a screen, then we basically have to shut our doors," he says. 

Some major fundraising is underway to save the Tri-Way.  "We need the people to rally behind us," says  Kinney's Assistant Cindy Hamilton.  They're doing everything from bake sales and car washes, to movie memorabilia silent auctions, advertising space, and direct donations through the Tri-Way's website.

Community members say they hope the theatre can come up with the cash.

"I'd like for my kids to keep going and keep on the tradition," says Kerschner.  

Kinney hopes that will be possible. The thought of closing his drive-in is tough to take.  "I'd be heartbroken. I've invested a lot of years and a lot of money in getting it to this point and to have to close the doors would just be catastrophic," he says. 

The Tri-Way says it's predicted that 50% of the drive-ins left in the country will close at the end of the year because of the digital conversion.

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