Gibson City’s drive-in theater provides hope for local businesses

Harvest Moon Drive-In Theater has been around for nearly 60 years and is a place for families and friends to watch classic movies from the comfort of their vehicles and eat snacks. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ben Harroun, General Manager for Harvest Moon, said the drive-in theater has also provided an outlet for people to get out of their homes. 

“But after seeing how many people want to come to the drive in and want to get out, they want to experience something, we have hopes that as long as we’re able to have something that people can come out to enjoy”, Harroun said. “ We’re still going to be here, we’re still going to provide that service as long as we can.” 

Fifty-two-year old Tammy Oliverio has been attending the drive- in theater since she was a younger girl. Oliverio said because of the pandemic, Harvest Moon is more than just a theater for people. 

“Here it is socially distanced, but people still want to be together and I think that’s what this is,” Oliverio said. “This is a family oriented place period.” 

On Mar. 16, larger movie theaters began to close down due to coronavirus. In August, the Illinois COVID-19 response team announced that Illinois is eligible to move forward into Phase 4: Revitalization, according to their website

Restaurants, movie theaters and stores are allowed to reopen their businesses with limited capacity. Harroun said that like many businesses, the movie theater industry is struggling to stay afloat. 

“There are most of the indoor theaters open now, but they’re not really having good attendance after the big chains are closing down again,” Harroun said. “And it’s a really scary place to be as far as a regular movie theater.”

As for Harvest Moon, Harroun said the drive-in theater is doing well. Juliana Bernardi, a moviegoer, said her family has been looking for alternative activities, while also staying safe. 

“We just kind of had to stay home, cooped up with the fam a lot more and we are always trying to do new things obviously with the safety of everyone”, Bernardi said. “It is also Halloween and we just really love it (at Harvest Moon).”

For the remainder of October, the attendees are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes. Harroun said the theater will continue to enforce COVID safety regulations and provide popular, classic movies for people to attend.