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Upgrading tradition

Jericho Drive-in asks for community’s help to go digital

Jerico Drive-in owners Mike and Lisa Chenette are hoping a new fundraising campaign will raise the funds required to purchase new equipement and keep the drive-in open.

Jerico Drive-in owners Mike and Lisa Chenette are hoping a new fundraising campaign will raise the funds required to purchase new equipement and keep the drive-in open. Photo by Marcy Velte.

— This could be the final year for movies on the big screen at Jericho Drive-in if a new fundraising campaign is unsuccessful.

Last summer, Jericho Drive-in owners Mike and Lisa Chenette lost their bid to win a new digital projection machine through a competition sponsored by Honda Motor Company. Drive-ins and independent movie theaters are being forced to upgrade to digital projection machines as the movie industry phases out the use of 35mm film.

“The drive-in should be open in a few weeks,” said Lisa Chenette. “We did find out we will be able to get prints for this one final year.”

The Chenettes are now starting a fundraising campaign on their own. They now have one year to raise the funds for a new digital projector or face closure next year. Depending on the equipment needed, the projectors can cost between $70,000 and $100,000.

“The day we open our doors, we plan on doing some type of fundraising every day we’re open,” said Lisa Chenette. The couple is hoping customers will be willing to donate some extra funds when they pay for admission or at the snack booth. They also plan on holding special movie screenings where the money will go directly toward the purchase of the projector.

Mike Chenette said they hope to start a social media campaign and will also be seeking ideas or donations through the drive-in’s mailing list.

“The drive-ins are a part of America. I would hate to see go away,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I’d like to see Jericho drive-in be here forever.”

The drive-in has been a Glenmont institution since it first opened in 1957. In 1995, it was purchased by Mike Chenette, who had saved up for years in order to own his own business.

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