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Frozen In Time: Drive-In Theater [VIDEO]

The Long Drive-In, Cliff Meire

Long Prarie — Minnesotans from all over the state go to Long Prarie to experience a rare blast from the past.

The Long Drive-In originally opened its doors in 1956 which made it one of 87 drive-in theaters throughout Minnesota.

In 1969 former owner, Laurel Meire started working at the outdoor movie theater but it wasn’t until 1985 that she and her late husband, Cliff Meire bought the business.

Since taking ownership in the mid-80s the Meire’s have turned the theater into a family affair.

Their children and grandchildren help sell concessions and movie tickets during the summer months. In addition to running the business, Cliff also operated the 1950s film projector until he passed away in 2008.

Since then, the outdoor theater has upgraded to new projector equipment which makes it easier to run.

Laurel says when her husband ran the projector he had to switch reels every 15 minutes because a reel couldn’t hold an entire full-length film. She says it was a very challenging job.

The original projector is still on display in the concession building. Much of the original cooking equipment is still used today. Laurel says the hot dog roaster is the same one they used when the business first opened.

Today, Laurel’s daughter, Michelle Claseman is the current owner of The Long Drive-In. It serves as one of five outdoor theaters still around in Minnesota.

Movie theaters across the country have been faced with the decision to go digital by 2014.

Laurel says it will be expensive and many small theaters won’t be able to afford it. She hopes her family will be able to maintain the drive-in for years to come.

Guests can listen to the movie from their vehicle by turning their radio on to 88.5 FM, or  they can pull their vehicle up next to the built-in speakers.

The drive-in is only open on weekends with each film starting at 10:00 p.m. followed by a second feature.

See more of our Frozen In Time features

See a video of The Long Drive-In below.

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