MANISTIQUE, Mich. (WJMN) – Tucked off of U.S. 2 in Manistique, the Highway 2 Community Drive-In Theater gives people a one-of-a-kind movie experience.

“This is the U.P.’s drive-in theater, not just Manistique’s drive-in,” Don Erickson, U.P. Film Union said. “So the drive-in was opened in 1953, by J.L. LaDuc and it was called the U.S. 2 drive-in at that point. In the 70s, L David Vaughan, who was an absolute staple in our community purchased the drive-in. He owned the movie theater in town and it was called Cinema One so he changed the name over here to Cinema Two. From the 70’s to the 90’s he owned and operated it and that’s really the time that people knew about this drive-in is when L David Vaughan owned it. He sold it to Bill Giles in the 90’s and it was open for about 8 years and then it closed in 2001 officially. When it closed in 2001, the drive-in sat dormant for a while until we came around in 2016.”

The U.P. Film Union is the non-profit that owns and operates the drive-in theater and they use the venue to give back to their community.

“To our knowledge, we are the only nonprofit that operates under this model, so we do not run the concession stand,” Erickson said. “We have different nonprofits come in and run the concession stand for each event. To date, we have raised over $18,000 dollars that have gone back into the community. We’ve had a local Girl Scout Troop, we’ve had a local Elementary School and a couple of our High School classes have come in as well as Habitat for Humanity.”

The drive-in hosts multiple movie events throughout each season that draws people from all across the region. All movie events at the drive-in are always free and open to everyone.

“We get sponsors to pay for the movie licensing which is really expensive and we are really grateful for our sponsors,” Eric Sherbinow, U.P. Film Union said. “There isn’t a ton that is free in the world anymore and this is free. It doesn’t matter if you have all the money in the world or no money at all, you can come and enjoy this experience that you can’t get anywhere else.”

Courtesy: U.P. Film Union

What once was a national wise phenomenon, the number of operating drive-ins continues to shrink, leaving the town of Manistique with the only drive-in theater in the U.P.

“We want people to enjoy this experience that you don’t get anywhere anymore,” Sherbinow said. “There are fewer than 400 drive-in theaters in the country and I think less than 8 in the state of Michigan. We’ve got this one little gem that you can experience this nostalgia that is not available almost anywhere anymore.”

“This experience is new to a whole generation of people that have never experienced a drive-in theater before,” Erickson said. “I still have people coming in and say like ‘What do we do?’, ‘How do we listen to the movie?’, things like that.”

There will be four movie showings this year as well as the 7th annual Fright Night that will feature truck or treat, and a triple feature of Addams Family, Blair Witch Project, and Legacy of Blood.

The drive-in theater is also the host of a monthly film club. For more information on that, click here.

For more information on the Highway 2 Community Drive-In, click here for their website and here for their Facebook.