After news of a possible final curtain for one historic drive in theater in Carbon County, a celebration was held tonight for a passionate community that helped save it.
It was a very close call for the Mahoning Drive-In Theater.
A solar energy company was looking into purchasing the land, that was until they decided not to move forward with those plans, knowing how much it meant to 35 millimeter film fans from all over the country.
Many say that the Drive-In will never die.
Carl Mazzella and Michael Drumbore have been friends for years, watching films at the drive in since the 90s.
“When I heard the news, I literally cried. Tears of joy. It means so much to me because I'm a huge 35 mm snob. I'm not ashamed to admit it," said Carl Mazzella.
Both friends say the Mahoning Drive-In is what brought them together and has always felt like a second home.
“That was just about my reaction, just absolute tears of joy, and relief it was just so stressful. Knowing that the future of this place was just uncertain and we didn’t know if we would be able to keep coming here," said Drumbore.
Managers J.T. Mills and Mark Nelson came up with the idea to celebrate the power of the underdog drive in theater that has been known to attract film lovers from all across the country.
“Our supporters rose up and turned this into a “we save the Mahoning rally” so it went from a desperate plea, “save the Mahoning” to a celebration that we did save the Mahoning," said Nelson.
As a way of giving back to the community, all vendors and moviegoers enjoyed the night for free.
“The community has been doing so much and saved us, so we’re basically spreading literally the wealth tonight all of the food trucks, vendors whatever money they make they’re taking home," said Mills.
It was also a pinch me moment for curator Virgil Cardamone.
“This feels like it’s a culmination of a life long dream talking about running a drive in since I was 13 to have this special place saved pretty much over night by the fanbase, is something people kinda have to stand up and recognize. And it really speaks on the power of the drive in and the power of cinema. The power of fandom, and the love of what we do here," said Cardamone.
William Shirar of Lehighton says his parents were one of the original owners of the drive-in, impressed by the outpouring support of his community.
"They’re always doing something, they’re always putting money back into this place. My father if he was still alive, he would be very happy to see it," said Shirar.
For now these passionate film lovers can happily say, the drive in lives on.
“To have this all come together and we can actually enjoy instead of rally and walk down to the township, we can celebrate in success of this campaign. They own our hearts so they own the business," said Cardamone.
If you missed tonight's celebration, you can still check out more events at the drive-in, here.