Since the middle of March, most area residents have been stuck inside the house riding out the pandemic with little in the way of outside entertainment.
The Town of New Castle hopes to change that this summer – at least for three nights.
Last week, the Town Board approved spending up to $15,000 to set up a makeshift drive-in movie facility as a way to bring some fun to residents and families.
Town Administrator Jill Shapiro said with nearly all recreational activities canceled until further notice, including the first two shows of its Wednesday evening summer concert series at Recreation Field, the town wanted its residents to have something to look forward to.
“Unfortunately, we’ve been required to cancel the first two of the summer concerts and we’re so disappointed about that, so we’re hoping to substitute in something fun for residents to be able to come out,” Shapiro said.
While dates haven’t been set, it appears the town will schedule one night in June, July and August for the movie screenings, she said.
Shapiro said during the past few weeks, Ike Kuzio, the town’s Superintendent of Recreation & Parks, reached out to several companies for estimates for renting and setting up the equipment.
Last week, the board approved a proposal from Frost Productions in Manhattan that will cost $4,738 for each screening to set up a 40-foot by 22-foot theatrical screen with a 15,000-lumen HD projector, an audio-visual control center and FM transmitter so people can hear the sound through their car radios. There will also be control of the equipment’s operation through a laptop that will allow for graphics, including messages from any sponsors and event listings.
In addition, Frost Productions will provide trained technicians to set up, operate and take down the equipment for each screening.
Councilman Jeremy Saland said the planning hasn’t been completed but officials are considering holding the drive-in movie nights at the town-owned Chappaqua train station parking lot. It is likely that only town residents would be able to attend, he said.
The screen accommodates up to about 100 cars for optimum viewing.
“As we continue to think out of the box, we are excited to offer families a much-needed respite from the monotony of our current stay-at-home and social distancing life,” Saland said. “A drive-in movie experience will give older and younger residents alike a welcome and enjoyable outlet.”
While Westchester and other Hudson Valley counties are entering the first phase of reopening on Tuesday, which only includes construction, manufacturing and curbside retail, on May 15 the state allowed for several low-risk activities to resume, including tennis, drive-in movies and gardening and landscaping.
The town has not scheduled any rain dates at this time, although it is believed the equipment can still be operated in a light rain, Saland said.
The movie screenings could also help businesses downtown, at least for those nights, he said. Establishments selling food have been open but with a Phase I reopening on Tuesday, there will be at least curbside retail. Full retail is part of Phase II.