Gary, Ind. to host drive-in movie theater at beachfront - FOX 32 News Chicago

Gary, Ind. to host drive-in movie theater at beachfront

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

In Gary, Indiana, residents have to drive miles to enjoy life's simple pleasures, like going to a movie theater. No movie theater means Gary residents are forced to spend money outside their own city, a city that desperately needs the cash.

The movie theater is a revered piece of Americana so you can only imagine how frustrating it is for the Gary's 80-thousand residents to drive outside the city to see a movie.

The mayor there is taking a small step to change that. A hidden gem in Gary, Indiana - more than a mile of Lake Michigan's beachfront and just steps away, the city plans to host a drive-in movie night at Marquette Park.

"Growing up being in Gary it was nice to go to the drive-in or having that as an option but now you have to go to the outer limits. It will be something nice to have," said a Gary resident.

"There is not a movie theater within the civil city limits of Gary, no… The closest movie theater is in Merrillville," said Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson in an interview with Fox 32's Tisha Lewis.

Freeman-Wilson says the last movie theater open in Gary was nearly three decades ago - the Palace Theater downtown.

"Since that time, there has been no movie theater, that's also on my list of things to do but in the interim we decided to bring the movies to a different place in a different way," said Freeman-Wilson.

On Friday night, a parking lot will transform into a drive-in movie theater.

"We're ‘guestimating' that 250 vehicles can fit in here alone but that doesn't include the foot traffic that we expect to gain as well," said LaShawn Brooks, Executive Director at Marquette Park.

Moviegoers will watch two family friendly feature films, all for ten dollars a car, at the newly renovated Marquette Park.

"It's a 28-million dollar renovation. We want people to see how beautiful it is," said Freeman-Wilson.

But not everyone is impressed.

"Before they decided to do that, you should fix what's out here instead of fixing what's over there," said Michelle Woods.

37 year old Michelle Woods has lived in Gary nearly two decades. She did not know about Friday's beachfront movie night and says money is better spent downtown.

"Look at just right here, this is supposed to be Downtown Gary, this is Downtown Gary? So the money that they put in over there, you should have fixed the downtown strip that everybody drives on," said Woods.

But for a city struggling to increase revenue, this is a start.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson says she is reaching out to Tyler Perry and Magic Johnson for help in opening a movie theater. The city says the drive-in movie night at Marquette Park cost about $4,000 but between sponsors, advertisers and attendees the city expects to turn a profit.

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