Tuesday, August 9, 2011

99-W Drive-In

Channel your inner Olivia Newton-John this summer with an outing to the 99-W Drive-In out Highway 99 in Newberg. Though it's a trek from inner Portland,  it's well worth the trip.

99-W is the last drive-in theatre in the Portland metro area - and it's thriving. In fact, on summer Friday and Saturday nights, the 275-plus car spaces fill as early as an hour before showtime.  The crowd's a great mix: families with kids in PJs and beds in the backs of their pickups or minivans mingle with car buffs, loyal locals and teenagers seizing one of the best-known make-out opportunities in the history of entertainment.

The entire experience is as sweet and charming as it gets: the snack bar is filled with old drive-in memorabilia, and sells treats at prices actually proportional to what you're getting (no 32-ounce, $7 "small" sodas here - which in itself is refreshing). Before the show, kids play on the swings and adults sit in lawn chairs actually - gasp - chatting with each other. And the evening starts with live birthday announcements, vintage reels and a giant sense of small-town community.

It's a great outing for kids - (see this week's Family Fun Review). Yes it makes for a late night, but heck, that's what summer's all about! It's also a romantic date for adults or a great way for a group of friends to see a movie and actually get to chat with each other when they feel like it without disturbing their neighbors.

Most of all, the 99-W Drive-In is a portal into a sweet and ever-more-rare slice of American life - in which entertainment is a special event that supports local businesses, doesn't break the bank, and fosters community over digitally-driven isolation.

Trust me: one trip here and you may just start singing, "Hopelessly Devoted to You" full-voice. Just don't do it in your nightgown, Sandy.