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Drive-In Movies Gain Popularity As People Seek Safe Activities During Pandemic


So it's Friday. Got any pandemic-responsible plans this weekend? - maybe a long walk, maybe a socially distant picnic, maybe something a little retro. NPR's Ashley Westerman sent us this audio postcard from a drive-in movie in Washington, D.C.

ASHLEY WESTERMAN, BYLINE: OK. So we're going - oh, we're going where these people are going.

My partner, Colin (ph), and I haven't been on a date in four months. So when we heard there was going to be a pop-up drive-in outside RFK Stadium, we just had to go.

Parking attendants out here showing everyone the way - all wearing masks.

COLIN: Hey. How's it going?

UNIDENTIFIED ATTENDANT: Hey. What's up? - just got to scan ticket real quick.


WESTERMAN: The attendant scanned our pre-purchased ticket for "Sonic The Hedgehog," based on the video game. And then we snaked across the parking lot in a line of cars to find our spot.

Are we straight? Just one row back from the temporary three-story screen.

The screen in front of us says please turn your radio to 87.9.


THEE SACRED SOULS: (Singing) Until there's justice.

WESTERMAN: So I guess this is our pre-movie music.

COLIN: Pre-movie music.

WESTERMAN: Drive-ins are making a bit of a comeback thanks to the pandemic. The Park Up DC pop-up drive-in is being put on by an event planner known as Broccoli City. Co-founder Brandon McEachern says, when their annual Earth Day festival was canceled because of COVID-19, they pivoted to the movies.

BRANDON MCEACHERN: We figured that something like this would be for the whole family. And also, no matter what race, color, creed, you know, I think you can enjoy "Jurassic Park."

WESTERMAN: And, indeed, as the movie began, the lot was packed. Parents laid out blankets in open trunks and back seats. Children poked their heads through sunroofs. Jessica (ph) from Virginia brought her family.

JESSICA: It's a really nice change of pace for us because, you know, we've been careful. So this is our first big outing.


WESTERMAN: And then we all settled in for at least an hour and a half to reclaim our weekend from COVID-19.


WESTERMAN: Ashley Westerman, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ashley Westerman is a producer who occasionally directs the show. Since joining the staff in June 2015, she has produced a variety of stories including a coal mine closing near her hometown, the 2016 Republican National Convention, and the Rohingya refugee crisis in southern Bangladesh. She is also an occasional reporter for Morning Edition, and NPR.org, where she has contributed reports on both domestic and international news.