Since 1955, moviegoers have parked their cars in a rural Spencer County lot, settled in with a bag of buttered popcorn, and watched a flick under the stars. Even as action blockbusters have gotten bigger and special effects more awe-inspiring, the magic of seeing a film at the Holiday Drive-In keeps customers returning.
“Most people don’t have this in their communities,” says owner Tim Moseley. “A lot of people don’t get to experience this. Some people don’t know what drive-ins are.”
The amenities grew under Moseley’s father, Darrell, who increased the number of screens fivefold between 1978 and 1995. In the 1990s, Mosely says his father sold the estimated five theaters he owned in Kentucky and Indiana, except the Holiday at 646 N. State Road 161 in Rockport, Indiana. Moseley took over from his father in 2014, switching the drive-in’s projection from film to digital and adding a sixth screen in 2019. It is now a third-generation family business, with Moseley’s daughter, Brynne, working alongside him, plus Georgia Decker, a general manager who has been with the drive-in more than 30 years.
“I grew up with it, so I just want to see it keep going,” Moseley says.
Drivers still pull their cars into individual stalls, although movie audio now is piped directly into vehicles via an FM radio station. Two concession stands keep visitors fed with popcorn, Pepsi products, hamburgers, hot dogs, corn dogs, French fries, onion rings, nachos, soft pretzels, candy, ice cream bars, snow cones, coffee, and hot cocoa.
There used to be more than 4,000 drive-in theaters in the U.S. Now, Moseley estimates around 300 are left from competition with multiplexes and streaming services.
A key to the Holiday’s success, Moseley says, is the number of screens at the theater. Each screen plays a double feature, giving the theater the ability to show as many as a dozen different movies per night.
Moseley also credits community support throughout the theater’s time in operation. As long as movies are made and the weather is decent, moviegoers keep streaming in.
“The whole community has supported us. We plan on being here for as long as we can,” he says. “On a busy night, it’s almost like a carnival. It’s a unique atmosphere at the drive-in.”
BACK IN TIME
Open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from July through late October