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Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre


Address: 2778 E. Sanilac
City: Carsonville State: MI Zip: 48471 Phone: (810) 657-6684  
County: Sanilac
Notes:
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Open: (1947) Closed: OPEN IN 2006 Capacity: 400 Status: Open  
Owner History: M. Goyette & S. Kursinsky
Web Address: http://www.thehiwaydrivein.com/
Number of visits to this page since Sept 2013: 14117
Video Clip:Bear in mind the drive-in has been remodeled since!
Video Clip:This is a full length documentary - now out of print

 
 

8/25/2015 - Matt
Just took my family here this past Saturday. What a wonderful experience. I encourage everyone to go to this Drive-In. we drove 1 hour and 20 minutes each way and it was well worth the memories. We hop that Hi-Way Drive-In remains open so we can enjoy movies for the next few summers to come, while our child is still young and enjoys things that we used to enjoy in our childhood.

Thank you Hi-Way Drive-in!!.
9/2/2013 - Patricia Clements
My name is Patricia Clements, daughter of the original owner, Torchy Clements. You cannot imagine how pleased I am to see the Hi-Way Drive In open. I was four years old when the drive in opened and spent a good part of my life there until it was sold in 1968. Some of that time was watching movies and fireworks, and some was pulling weeds from the flower beds in front, checking the speakers, and when I was older, manning the ticket booth. I loved it.

I remember Mr. Davis running the projection booth, but Daddy never allowed us kids in there. The video above was the first time I ever saw the equipment! I love the sound system the projectionist devised; very smart. I was visiting Deckerville in August, 2012 for Homecoming and our casual 50 year class reunion and noticed the drive in operating, and again up to Deckerville in August of 2013.

Still there, going strong. I wish for good fortune to the current owners.
7/17/2011 - Rachael
Had a GREAT time at the Hi-Way Drive-In!!! Took my 5 year old for her first time (that's about the age I was when my dad took me). Memories came rushing back when I pulled in the drive-in!!! Very clean place. Concession were ok but I didn't know what to expect and we didn't eat dinner prior to going to the movie so we munched on junk food they had to offer. They don't have a park for the kiddies so bring a ball or outdoor game. When it got closer to dusk, it was smiles all around.

1st feature (Cars2) started at 10 and the second one (Pirates 4) lasted untill 2:15!!!!!!! I didn't get home untill 4:23 A. M. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Next time I will just camp out there- there was a tent and a camper there. The only mishap was my dome light would not shut off no matter what I did and when I sat outside I couldn't hear my radio.

This Drive-In is awesome, we can't wait to go back! Everyone should expeirence this! One of the best days ever.
6/29/2008 - Donald C. Gordon
To start with in the fall of 1948 I met Doug Davis, thru a good friend Clair Brinker. Brinker and I were members of a model airplane club, started by Davis, with meetings held at Davis''s Lumber Yard locatedin the west end of Deckerville. Attending these meeting I became acquainted with Thorchie Clement, who owned a manufacturing plant in Deckerville. In the spring of 1949 they started the Highway Drive-In. Clement was the money man and Davis was the builder operator.

On the fourth of July 1949, Clair Brinker and myself were invited to assist Doug with firing the fireworks. Everything went well until the final solute, a wooden crate with eight 6 inch mortars. I lit the fuse , it burned down until only 4 inches were left and stopped. With much fear I re-lit the fuse, took one step and the whole thing launched out of my hip pocket.

The gentleman interviewed on the video is my wife''s cousin Stanley Fetting who passed away 2 years ago. I am Don Gordon, Sandusky HS class of 53. Hope this clairfies some facts.

7/2/2006 - Port Huron Times Herald
August 18, 2002 Sunday CARSONVILLE - It was 1947 - Harry S. Truman was in the White House, the University of Michigan Wolverines were poised to win the first of their two consecutive national football championships, and here, the Hi-Way Drive-In opened that summer for business. Today, it is the oldest operating drive-in theater in Michigan. Fifty-five years later, families are the norm on summer nights, bringing lawn chairs, blankets and coolers of food. They often show up a couple of hours before the sun goes down and the movies begin.

Here are some snippets from a night at the drive-in: Popular spot The Hi-Way is open Memorial Day to Labor Day, showing double features nightly. In September, it is open on weekends only. Owner Steve Kursinsky said although there are spaces for 360 vehicles, the FM radio broadcast allows them to pack about 400 into the theater on really busy nights. Kursinksy identified double-features and the growing interest in family entertainment as keys to the popularity of the Hi-Way.

Where else can you go and see two movies at $3. 50 each, or take a family out for a night so cheaply? he said. Memory lane Dawn Nicholson and Pamela Ramsey relax in their lawn chairs. Behind them the rear door of the mini-van is open, providing quick access to a cooler stocked with treats.

The children are off elsewhere, playing and waiting for the darkness to descend. Nicholson, 30, of Croswell, and Ramsey, 36, of Marlette, both confess to not having been to a drive-in for years. I remember going as a kid, and wed make bags of kettle corn and then all pile into the car and go to the drive-in, Ramsey said. This brings back a lot of those memories.

Antique reels Remember the old black-and- white dancing hot dog and soda pop? At the Hi-Way you can still see them. The antique clips boasting the selections of the refreshment stand are still shown between movies. Another shows off the Hi-Way when it opened 55 years ago. Home away from home Kathy and Anthony Testorelli of Marlette patiently wait in their car for the movie to begin.

On this night, they are one of the few couples without youngsters in tow. Its their second time this summer at the Hi-Way. Theres so much more freedom at the drive-in, Mr. Testorelli, 35, said.

You dont have to worry about sitting in a seat where someone has spilled pop all over the place. Its like being in your home. Mrs. Testorelli, 37, said it evokes memories of her childhood.

When I was a kid my family used to pile in the van and go to the Mount Clemens Drive-In, she said. When we got there, wed all climb up on the roof and watch. We dont have kids, but we like the fact that they show family movies here. Career attraction Dan Apple Arnold grew up going to the drive-in.

That attraction drew him to a career in the movie business. This is Arnolds 29th summer as the projectionist at the drive-in. Its a place where you can come out and party with friends, be a little loud and not feel like youre bothering other people, he said. Besides, people are so friendly.

If you dont know the people next to you, you probably will by the end of the night. Tucked into a room in front of the concession stand, he works with the two oversized projectors. An overstuffed swivel rocking chair sits in a corner and provides respite when he can take a break - something that doesnt come often during the night. The average movie comes in six reels.

That means every 20 minutes Arnold must switch projectors. He does it seamlessly. Timing is everything, he said, heading for the chair.

7/2/2006 - Port Huron Times Herald
Part 1 - CARSONVILLE -Kayla Montreuil, 7, and her brother, Eric, 9, settle comfortably into bean-bag chairs in the bed of their parents pickup truck, anxiously waiting for Stuart Little 2 to begin. A number of vans, trucks, SUVs and other vehicles begin filling in the spaces around the Gagetown familys Chevy Silverado more than 90 minutes before the movie is scheduled to begin at the Hi-Way Drive-In on M-46, just west of this small Thumb town. Its neat, Kayla pronounced, relaxing in the big ball-like chair. Ive never been to a movie outside before. What the Montreuil children are about to experience on this summer night is a throwback to days gone by; a rare slice of Americana literally surrounded by corn fields.

The Hi-Way is one of the last of its kind in the state. More than 100 drive-ins operated in Michigan in the 1950s. Today, more than 90% of them have gone dark. Only nine still operate.

Across the country, about 500 drive-ins in 46 states remain open. In the 1950s, they numbered about 5,000 in all 50 states. Reasons for the decline, which started in the mid-1980s, are as varied as the movies shown on the big screens. Rising land values to VCRs and daylight- savings time are pointed to as a few.

Even so, Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, said the drop-off is somewhat puzzling. The drive-in movie is the merging of two of the greatest American institutions - Hollywood and the automobile industry, he said. Its funny how short it lasted. Movies are at the center of American life, but the drive-in movie theater has certainly fallen on hard times.

But those in the outdoor theater business say things are looking up. With the need for affordable family entertainment, drive-in theaters are experiencing a sort of renaissance across the country. In the past five or six years, more than 50 drive-ins have opened from scratch or been refurbished, said Don Sanders, who is completing a documentary about the once-popular theaters. Seventy million baby boomers have fond memories of going to the drive-in.

Theyre wanting to take their own children, he said. Theyre Americas greatest icon. I think there are more people living today that have been to a drive-in movie theater than any other leisure activity. Brown said drive-in theaters served the same purpose in their heyday that shopping malls serve now.

It allowed a place for families to go and for young people to use the freedom that the automobile afforded and to go some place and park, he said. They were a community center for young people. Teenagers use the malls for the same thing today. But theres probably more of a demand (today) because all most 16-year-olds have is the mall.

Family fun - In the Thumb area, they also have the Hi-Way Drive-In. Hi-Way owner Steve Kursinsky said the drive-in has no trouble filling its 360 parking places during the summer. This is a great place to bring a family at a reasonable price, he said. Were also the only one of its kind in the area, which makes us unique.

Moviegoers once flocked to local drive-ins like the Lakeshore in Fort Gratiot, the Marysville Drive-In and Seaway in Algonac. Today, the closest drive-ins to the Blue Water Area other than the Hi-Way include the Ford Wyoming Drive-In on the Dearborn-Detroit border and the 23 Twin and the Michigan Miracle theaters near Flint. Ken Majewski and David Channell, both of Warren, are weekend regulars at the Hi-Way. Majewski, 36, recently purchased property in the area the family uses for weekend trips.

We found it while driving around looking for something to do. Its pretty cool, David, 15, said. Said Majewski, There arent too many drive-ins by us. So this is what we do, visit the property and the drive-in.

We love it. Its great family entertainment. Like many drive-ins, the Hi-Way charges only $1 for children. Tickets for adults are $7 - for two movies.

An evening show at a multi-plex theater at the mall easily costs as much for one movie.
7/2/2006 - Port Huron Times Herald
Part 2 - At the drive-in you can come as you are; smoke if you like. There is no baby-sitting cost and there is no rule against bringing in food. Patrons often bring coolers along with lawn chairs and other portable furniture, creating a tailgate atmosphere. We like it because its outside, the kids come and play a little and it doesnt matter if they start talking like it does in a regular theater, said Nora Cervantes of Sandusky, who on this Friday night packed 15 family members into a van for the outing. We also live in Texas, and most of the drive-ins there are closed now, she said.

So this is a real treat for us. Big and small - With nine screens and 2,500 parking spaces, the Ford Wyoming Drive-In is the biggest drive-in in the country. Its open all year, closing in only the most extreme weather, and during the summer it stays open all night, attracting shift workers from the nearby DaimlerChrysler plant. The last movies usually begin playing around 4 a.

m. on busy summer weekends. It never ceases to amaze me that we still have cars at the box office at 2:30 in the morning, Ed Szurek, general manager for the drive-in, said. While the Ford Wyoming is thriving, smaller drive-ins like the Hi-Way also are faring well.

Kursinksy attributes the upswing to a renewed focus on family entertainment. Drive-ins are big on nostalgia, but that doesnt bring them in, he said. The biggest draws we have are the family-oriented shows. If I could run a Disney movie every week, I would.

Renaissance era - The Hi-Way is the oldest operating drive-in in Michigan, opening in 1947. It shows double features nightly Memorial Day through Labor Day. In September, it is open weekends only. The drive-in was showing signs of its age before Kursinsky and his partner bought it a few years ago.

We decided to give it one year to see what would happen, Kursinsky, 32, of Sandusky said. We figured if it didnt go, wed bulldoze the place and have commercial property. Then I got addicted to the place, and Im out here almost every night. Now in its fourth season, the restrooms have been refurbished and most of the original speakers (many of which were stolen through the years) have been replaced with an FM radio broadcast of the movie soundtracks.

The refreshment bar, with its brightly painted red and white striped walls and black-and-white tile flooring are a throwback to the drive-in of the 50s. Painted yellow stars and movie reels decorate the walls. Standards such as popcorn, candy, hot dogs and sodas are still available, but the updated menu also includes nachos and pizza. Kursinsky also has added some special family night attractions.

A few weeks ago, when Disneys Lilo & Stitch was showing, a family Hawaiian night was offered to correspond with the films setting. The place was packed, he said. People came in grass skirts and Hawaiian shirts, he said. We had a luau-like setting before the movie and gave away prizes.

People loved it. Near and far - Moviegoers at the Hi-Way arent limited to people in the Thumb. Weve discovered that people come here from all over, including Detroit, Kursinsky said. Some of them have been coming here for years.

I think they realize that this is something special. Its more than just going to a theater. Folks come early, set up their blankets and chairs. There are some folks who even bring in couches.

Its like a movie in their home with the benefits of the theater. Film critic Leonard Maltin agreed. When you were a kid, everything about it seemed cool, he said. You could go in your pajamas.

You had the speaker in your window. Your parents would take you and they fully anticipated that you would fall asleep watching the movie. Kursinsky said the atmosphere has not changed. Kids still come in their pajamas; so do some of the adults, he said.

2/7/2005 - Doug Ziegelmann
I cant believe it. The place is actually open? I grew up in Snover and often went to Sandusky for big city thrill. A real highlight was to travel to the DriveIn at Carsonville. Now that I know its there and open, Ill make the trip from Auburn Hills.

12/9/2004 - William
This Drive In brings back many memories from my childhood. I grew up in Carsonville and on every Fiday night during the Spring Summer and Fall, we would go see a movie. Every night they show 2 movies, and with the great service they provide sometimes i dont mind watching the same movie over and over again.
9/3/2003 - WaterWinterWonderland
The Hi-Way is the oldest operating drive-in in Michigan. It was purchased a few years ago by a new owner and the result has been very positive. Very clean and a great presentation. Also lots of authentic drive-in stuff like great intermission films, speaker poles and a great nostalgic feel. Virtually NO LIGHT POLLUTION!.

Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - ENTRANCE
ENTRANCE
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - ENTRANCE - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
ENTRANCE - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - ENTRANCE AND MARQUEE - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
ENTRANCE AND MARQUEE - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - ENTRANCE DRIVEWAY
ENTRANCE DRIVEWAY
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - MARQUEE
MARQUEE
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - MARQUEE AND ENTRANCE
MARQUEE AND ENTRANCE
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - REAR OF ENTRANCE
REAR OF ENTRANCE
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - TICKET BOOTH
TICKET BOOTH
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - CONCESSION AND SCREEN DAY
CONCESSION AND SCREEN DAY
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - CONCESSION AND STRING
CONCESSION AND STRING
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - PROJECTION AND CONCESSION
PROJECTION AND CONCESSION
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - PROJECTION AT NIGHT
PROJECTION AT NIGHT
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - REAR OF CONCESSION
REAR OF CONCESSION
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - SNACK BAR - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
SNACK BAR - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - SNACK BAR AND SCREEN - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
SNACK BAR AND SCREEN - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - RAMPS - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
RAMPS - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - SCREEN AND FIELD
SCREEN AND FIELD
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - SPEAKER POLES
SPEAKER POLES
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - FIELD
FIELD
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - CLOSE-UP SCREEN
CLOSE-UP SCREEN
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - INSIDE CONCESSION
INSIDE CONCESSION
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - ORIGINAL 1948 WOOD SCREEN TOWER
ORIGINAL 1948 WOOD SCREEN TOWER
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - ORIGINAL SCREEN DESTROYED BY STORM IN APRIL 1996
ORIGINAL SCREEN DESTROYED BY STORM IN APRIL 1996
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - NEW SCREEN PANELS JULY 1996
NEW SCREEN PANELS JULY 1996
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - NEW SELBY SCREEN CONSTRUCTION JULY 10 1996
NEW SELBY SCREEN CONSTRUCTION JULY 10 1996
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - SCREEN CONSTRUCTION JULY 1996
SCREEN CONSTRUCTION JULY 1996
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - NEWLY COMPLETED SELBY SCREEN TOWER JULY 1996
NEWLY COMPLETED SELBY SCREEN TOWER JULY 1996
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - AERIAL
AERIAL
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - AERIAL - PHOTO FROM TERRASERVER
AERIAL - PHOTO FROM TERRASERVER
Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre - GOOGLE EARTH
GOOGLE EARTH

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