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COOL IDEAS

All I want for Christmas is some front-row seats

Mendon Drive-In extends season with holiday classics and light shows

Laser light shows at the Mendon Drive-In.
Laser light shows at the Mendon Drive-In.

Did your kids love the drive-in movies this summer? Good old-fashioned drive-ins moved beyond the realm of retro nostalgia into the world of essential mainstream entertainment. Cooler weather may have brought many drive-ins to a close, but the Mendon Twin Drive-In has decided to stay open through the holidays — through Jan. 3, 2021, to be specific — with a schedule of seasonal movies and laser light shows. Here’s a chance to extend the fun for several more weeks and adopt a really cool (literally) new holiday tradition.

The theater opened in 1954 and added its second screen in 1998. “When we bought it six years ago, people would have thought that we were crazy to stay open after Labor Day,” says co-owner Michael Andelman. At that point, no one had predicted a global pandemic and a subsequent overwhelming demand for safe, fun activities.

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Moreover, explains Andelman, studios are making an unusually large number of Christmas movies available this year. Mendon Twin will be screening Friday through Sunday evenings. One of the two screens will show a Christmas double feature. The other screen shows a laser light show and a single film. The drive-in is limiting capacity to 50 percent, which is 350 vehicles total for the two screens.

Laser light shows at the Mendon Drive-In.
Laser light shows at the Mendon Drive-In.

Seeing a movie from the comfort and privacy of your own vehicle has some major advantages. You won’t have to endure disapproving glances if someone gets a little boisterous or spills popcorn all over the seat cushions. You won’t even have to talk in whispers.

Mendon Twin posts the schedule on the website two weeks in advance — and advises buying tickets as soon as the postings go up. The movie menu draws from a stable of holiday favorites that include “Elf” with Will Ferrell, “The Santa Clause” with Tim Allen, cult favorite “A Christmas Story,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” with Chevy Chase, the computer-animated films “Polar Express” and “Frozen,” and the full trio of Grinch movies.

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An on-screen greeting from Santa and Mrs. Claus launches each show. The laser light shows transform the screen and parking area into a kaleidoscope of color. The 45-minute shows will feature about 10 holiday songs with a multi-generational appeal. “Kids love ‘Jingle Bells,’” says Andelman, “and their grandparents will appreciate that it’s the Frank Sinatra version.” Alas, your children won’t be able to hang those tinny, old-fashioned box speakers from the car window. Instead, the drive-in broadcasts the Dolby Digital soundtrack to your car radio.

Of course, the snack bar will be open. Special seasonal treats include gingerbread and mocha whoopie pies, gingerbread boys and girls, and flavored hot chocolates. Mom and dad can also order wine, hard cider, or beer.

Mendon Twin Drive-In, 35 Milford St., Mendon. Films and laser shows Friday-Sunday through Jan. 3, 2021. See website for schedule. $50 per car (up to six people) for laser show and movie, $30 per car (up to six people) for double feature. mendondrivein.com

Patricia Harris and David Lyon can be reached at harrislyon@gmail.com.


Patricia Harris can be reached at harrislyon@gmail.com. David Lyon can be reached at harrislyon@gmail.com.