STERLING – The projectors soon will be rolling on Midway Drive-In's 70th anniversary season, and some new precautions will be in place because of COVID-19.
The drive-in, at 91 Palmyra Road just northeast of Sterling, opens May 22 with a pair of movies with Chicago roots: Grease, which is based on the musical set in Chicago, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, about three friends who go to a game at Wrigley Field and crash the Von Stueben Day Parade.
"We though it would be fun to showcase two movies from our state of Illinois," said Mike Kerz, who owns the Midway Drive-in along with his wife, Mia.
The ongoing pandemic is causing some changes, however. Moviegoers are asked to buy tickets in advance at www.themidwaydrivein.net. Kerz is expecting tickets to go on sale sometime next week.
"People have been requesting this for a long time," Kerz said. "And now it's more important, since it will allow no exchange of cash at the box office, no exchange of credit cards even, and for a contact-less entry. They'll be safe and healthy that way."
Kerz said the added benefit of advanced tickets is that people don't have to arrive early to get a spot. He has heard of people getting in line before noon for evening shows at some drive-ins around the country, and some people being turned away.
"We just want people to have peace of mind that if they have tickets, there will be a spot for their car," Kerz said.
In fact, Midway has been getting a steady stream of phone calls from people eager to get out a see a movie.
Midway is also planning on being open a couple of days during the week to give folks a chance to catch a movie even if they have to work weekends.
He also is limiting audiences to 250 cars, down from the usual 500, which comes out to one car between each post instead of the usual two. Kerz hopes that will help increase social distancing.
The drive-in is also celebrating its 70 anniversary season this year with a slate of films celebrating summer blockbusters.
Find it on Facebook, call 847-647-3124, or go to www.themidwaydrivein.net for more information.