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Drive-in theaters rising in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic

Drive-ins have seen rising numbers as theaters limit showings and some temporally are closing.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn — Drive-in theaters are open as some traditional movie theatres close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. City organizations and private vendors are filling the void they left behind.

"I will always love the movie theater and cannot wait for them to come on, but there is something nostalgic about watching a movie outdoors. Drive-in movies, the outdoor movies are so much fun," said Mary Pom Claiborne, from the Knox County Public Library.

The library and City of Knoxville transformed the "Movies on Market Square" event into "Drive-in at the Midways" at Chilhowee Park.

"We just want everyone to come out and have a great night that the library and the city have partnered together to put this on for entertainment. It's fun a way to get out and enjoy the East Tennessee fall, and it's a great time to watch a movie," said Claiborne.

Film event in Knoxville, TN by City of Knoxville - Government and 4 others on Friday, October 16 2020 with 102 people interested.

And in the Old City, the "Mill and Mine" turned its space into a pop-up indoor and outdoor theater.

"People are excited to have something to do and feel safe doing it," said Emily Crutcher, the Event Manager at Mill and Mine. 

Screenings are sold out, as drive-in theaters see a rise in popularity.

It comes as traditional theaters struggle. Knoxville-based Regal closed all cinemas this week, and as the pandemic continues AMC theaters said they are offering select showings.

For the drive-in audience, coordinators are taking safety precautions.

"We're absolutely following the five core actions put forward by the Board of Health. Obviously, we want everyone to wear their masks when there walking around the site, and if they don't feel well then don't come out," Claiborne said.

And in the end, they want moviegoers to smile.    

"We're here to watch out for them and make sure they stay as safe as possible, but we also want them to have a space to have fun," Crutcher said.