Big crowds turn out for McHenry Outdoor Theater’s opening night

Chicago News

MCHENRY, Ill. — It was a big opening night at the McHenry Outdoor Theater.

It has been operating for nearly 70 years, but with movie theaters closed right now, people were excited to hear the drive-in was allowed to open. Some started lining up at 11 a.m.

There were some hurdles though.

Owner Scott Dehn said the Illinois Department of Public Health initially told him he could open last weekend, but then rescinded saying it wasn’t an essential business.

But after proving he could operate safely, Dehn said state representative Tom Webber called and told him he was clear to open.

Dehn has made several modifications. He is only allowing 350 cars in the lot instead of the normal 750. They will be spaced 14 feet apart.

When Tom Kucek of McHenry heard it was re-opening tonight, he had to be here.

“I’ve been coming here for 35 years,” he said. “It’s a a good way to transform into a 9-year-old again.”

Friday’s double feature, “Jurassic Park” and “The Flintstones,” were not the typical new blockbusters you’d normally see at the theater this time of year, but that doesn’t matter.

Dehn hopes, despite not showing any new releases tonight, that families have a great time.

“I can’t play the newest Star Wars,” he said. “We’re playing ‘Flintstones’ and ‘Jurassic Park.’ I see all these cars parked waiting to see a movie from 1994. They have these at home. I get it. You got to get out. We want to get out. It’s an escape.”

“I think the kids are going crazy,” Lake in the Hills resident Erica Miller said. “Everyone is just feeling a little secluded from the world. It’s just nice to be able to get out and do something. It’s been two months now. We’re all a little stir crazy.”

Patrons have to stay inside their vehicles and can only leave to use the restroom. They will have to wear a mask to do so.

They are offering concessions on a mobile cart and following a curbside pickup model restaurants are using.

Admission is free courtesy of Ray Scarpelli of Ray Chevrolet, Jeep Dodge and Ram of Fox Lake who paid for everyone to get in.

Scarpelli of Fox Lake grew up coming here as a kid.

“We’re so happy to do it and return something back to our community and return some happiness,” he said.

The first show began at 8:30 p.m.

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