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10 classic drive-in theaters worth the detour

July 26, 2013, 11:42 a.m.
Delsea Drive-In Theatre, Vineland, N.J.

Photo: Delsea Drive-In /Facebook

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Delsea Drive-In Theatre, Vineland, N.J.

It’s sad to say that New Jersey, ancestral home of the drive-in movie theater (Richard M. Hollingshead Jr.’s Automobile Movie Theatre in Pennsauken opened in June 1933), now has only one. Thank goodness it’s a doozy.

Built in 1949, the double-screen Delsea Drive-In entered an extended period of vandalism-heavy hibernation starting in 1987 before reopening in 2004 under decidedly more calorie-conscious, family-friendly management: Movie selections are rarely R-rated, and in addition to a vast menu of heartburn staples like onion rings and chili cheese fries, the Delsea also offers nontraditional fare such as edamame with sea salt and whole wheat wraps.

In 2010, the Delsea’s pediatrician savior/owner, Dr. John DeLeonardis, was granted permission to install a 50-kW solar array to help power the theater, a first for any drive-in. “I wanted to, kind of, go green. For New Jersey's only drive-in, it's a good thing,” explained DeLeonardis to The Daily Journal.