For Ansonia Family Drive-In, spirits of summers past return with ‘Ghostbusters’
Like most businesspeople looking to put on a show, Charles Rosenay of Orange decided to shift gears recently.
The operator of the horror-themed Fright Haven in Stratford was unable to open for its “Rottentail’s Revenge” spring event or “Halloween in Summer” due to safety concerns amid this horror-for-real pandemic.
Rosenay, who like to spell his name with three exclamation points, pondered whether to try and show horror films in Fright Haven’s parking lot. But after consulting with friend John Marini — who was already screening films at a Valley theater under the banner “Sci-Fi at the Strand’’ — Rosenay said he and Marini decided to join forces on a drive-in festival of four Saturday night films at Warsaw Park in Ansonia — “even though I’ve never run a drive-in before and my only experience in showing movies was at my (Beatles) convention.”
The first will be “Ghostbusters” Saturday, Aug. 22, at 8:30 p.m. at what’s being called the Ansonia Family Drive-In.
“We did a great deal of research and found that there were high-quality inflatable screens available for commercial outdoor screenings,” said Rosenay in an email, “so we ordered the largest one that’s made (45 feet), and we’re sprucing it up with a great sound system.”
Rosenay, whose Fright Haven name is Cryptmaster Chucky, has a lifelong love of horror films. And as a Beatles festival promoter for many years, he wanted to screen a Beatles movie. After meeting with Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti, Rosenay and other organizers decided “that any gore or real horror was out, and family-oriented features were in.”
The result is “Ghostbusters,” “A Hard Day’s Night” on Aug. 29, “Creature from the Black Lagoon” Sept. 5 and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” Sept. 12. Rosenay said there will be prizes, a food truck and a few surprises.
Rosenay noted that drive-ins evoke nostalgia for older folks and curiosity for younger ones.
“I grew up in the Bronx,” he said, “and my first memory of a drive-in was seeing the outdoor screen from afar while my parents were driving by, and catching my first glimpse of a James Bond movie. I recall my parents commenting how having the huge screen visible to the highway was such good advertising because thousands of cars drove by and would get a quick preview of what was playing.”
Rosenay said he didn’t go to a drive-in until moving to New Haven and a family visit to the old Bowl Drive-In in West Haven. “And my parents brought along a sleeping bag and a blanket so I could watch from the top of our Dodge Coronet. I have similar happy memories of the Post Drive-In that was in East Haven and the Summit Drive-In in Branford.”
Social distancing rules apply, with space between vehicles. Lawn chairs permitted in front of cars only. Masks must be worn in public. Blankets atop cars permitted. Tickets for car admissions ($20 a carload with maximum five people in a car) are still available at 203-641-6505 but each presentation is limited to 50 total cars. Tickets are also at ansoniadrivein.ticketleap.com/filmfestival/dates.
Other drive-in locations in the state this summer: The Waters Edge at Giovanni's in Darien, Pleasant Valley Drive-in in New Hartford, Mansfield Drive-in Movie Theater in Mansfield Center, Lachat Town Farm Drive-in Movies in Weston, Drive-in Movie Nights at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center, Ingersoll Auto Pop-up Drive-in Theater at the Edmond Town Hall in Newton, Drive-In Movie Nights in Harwinton and Foxwoods Drive-in across from the casino in Mashantucket.