Campaign to save Kings Drive-In kicks off

September 13, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Vandalism and slow ticket sales may soon close a long standing South Valley drive-in theater.

Now the community is organizing in an effort to save the Kings Drive-In located at Lacey Boulevard & 14th Avenue near Hanford.

Ticket sales at any drive-in theater are much slower in this digital age. But at this theater the owner is also fighting against vandals and burglars since she took over the place two years ago when her husband died.

From the old 35 milimeter film reels into the snack bar, all the way out to the box office, Geraldine Graff is working overtime.

She and her husband Tom have owned the Kings Drive-In Theater since 1978.

"That was his love - he loved this theater," Graff said.

But when Tom passed away two years ago, Geri and her daughter had to take over.

Since then, Geri says, so have the disrespectful people who constantly cut holes in the fences, trash her lot, and destroy her restrooms.

"But the vandalism is awful. And actually when we first came into it, it wasn't. You didn't see all the vandalism. In the last two years is when everything started going. And it hasn't stopped," Graff said.

Geri says some days it's hard to keep the drive-in open, but she does it because she knows the community, the few that show up regularly, love it.

"I love the drive in," Mark Bright of Hanford said. "This is one of a few left anyway, if they do it will be a travesty of... I don't know."

Mark Bright and his wife Sharon have been coming here for 20 years. They've brought their kids and grandkids to watch movies on the silver screen.

"We as a couple, now that we're by ourselves enjoy the drive-in. It would be a sad thing for the drive-in to close," Sharon Bright said.

That's where Francisco Ramirez steps in. He's started a Facebook page called Save The Kings Drive-In Theater.

The page was created Monday and is quickly on its way to three thousand likes.

"This is one of the very few landmarks, few drive ins that are actually around. This is a mainstay," Ramirez said.

Francisco is hoping to raise more than $100 thousand to help the theater purchase new digital projectors, but there's still the problem of the slow ticket sales, the old snack bar and what Geri says is constant vandalism.

"We're doing it for them, and they're not respecting it," Geri said.

The movie season ends here around Halloween. Geri says before opening next year she will consider selling it. But the people on that Facebook page do not want to see that, so they're hoping to help bring in more business and of course help in the digital switch.

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