By Jessica Moore
Steve and Danielle Wakham closed on the Hi-Way 50 Drive-In Theater Wednesday, July 24. "It came as a big surprise to everyone, it took us two months to buy it. We didn't even tell anyone we were looking at it," they said.
The Wakham's have three children and are locals to Lewisburg. Because of the upgrades, painting, and remodeling they plan to do, they hope to have the drive-in open to the public by early spring 2014 at the latest. The theater industry will be switching to digital film in the very near future. This will require an upgrade to the screen, the projection room, as well as new equipment. The Wakham's plan to open with digital equipment from the start. Visitors to the drive-in can also expect to see new bathrooms, new paint, and a brand new menu. The menu will have snack options as well as meal options.
The Wakham's plan to have the drive-in theater open as much as possible, as long as there are viewers to attend they hope to keep it open throughout the year and even throughout the week.
The Hi-Way 50 Drive-In first opened in 1946. It is Tennessee's oldest continuously operated drive-in. It's screen tower is one of the few remaining screens that were typical in the early days of outdoor movie theaters. There are only 15 drive-in theaters left in the state of Tennessee, and just over 300 left in the country.
Steve Wakham and his wife spoke of his father and uncle actually working at the drive-in when they were young, and another family member having their first date at the drive-in. During the interview the community's support for the Wakham's and the drive-in was exciting to witness. In the short time that I was there people stopped and took pictures as they drove by. Supporters were slowing down in front of the sign to honk, wave, and even offer their thumbs-up.
What an exciting day for the Wakham family and the community!