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Shankweiler's Drive-In: A Revitalized Icon Embraces Year-Round Entertainment

Tricia Armbuster | Writer

Lauren McChesney, an LCCC alumna, and her partner Matthew McClanahan are transforming Shankweiler's Drive-In, America's oldest operating drive-in theater, into a Lehigh Valley hotspot. From hosting car shows to craft fairs, they're injecting fresh energy into the historic venue. As the theater gears up for its 90th anniversary this April, McChesney and McClanahan hint at something special in store for moviegoers, but remain tight-lipped about their plans for the occasion, promising a celebration that's not to be missed.

Since taking the reins just over a year ago, McChesney and McClanahan have reimagined Shankweiler's Drive-In, shifting its status from a seasonal gem to a bustling year-round destination. The duo's commitment to preserving the theater's heritage while diversifying its offerings has been met with enthusiasm from patrons of all ages.

"How cool would it be to watch a movie like 'Twisters' outdoors while it's raining or windy," McChesney said, reflecting on the immersive experience the drive-in provides and her most anticipated movie of the summer.

With a jam-packed schedule of events, Shankweiler's has become more than just a movie theater—it's a community hub. From film classics and blockbusters to pop-up shops and festivals, there's something for everyone to enjoy, attracting visitors from near and far.

In addition to the allure of outdoor cinema, Shankweiler's offers a range of amenities, including a snack bar stocked with hot and cold treats, with vegan options available to cater to various dietary preferences. Moviegoers are encouraged to bring their own chairs, blankets, and even their furry friends, creating a cozy atmosphere for an evening under the stars.

Jeremy Gathwaite, a devoted fan of Shankweiler's, expressed his admiration for the drive-in's revival. 

"I've been coming here for years, and it's awesome to see how the new owners are breathing new life into this place," he said, echoing the sentiments of many longtime patrons.

The theater's online presence is a central hub for moviegoers, offering a comprehensive overview of upcoming screenings, ticket pricing, and detailed event information. This digital platform, accessible both through their official website and Facebook page, not only highlights the theater's schedule but also provides insight into its day-to-day operations and offers a glimpse into their unique brand. It's a clear demonstration of McChesney and McClanahan's dedication to enriching the customer experience and ensuring that audiences remain well-informed.

With its blend of nostalgia, innovation, and community spirit, Shankweiler's Drive-In continues to captivate audiences, inviting them to rediscover the magic of outdoor cinema in the modern age.

Photo Caption: 8 Feb.- Shankweiler's new owners Matthew McClanahan and Lauren McChesney were prepped and ready to go for the Valentine’s Weekend events ahead of them.


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