WARWICK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — As the tri-state area begins to slowly reopen, people are flocking to what seemed like a relic of the past for entertainment.

In the midst of a pandemic, movie-goers eagerly streamed into the Warwick Drive-In theater in Orange County, New York.

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“The movie didn’t even start and I’m having a really good time,” said movie-goer Susan Buckley, of Wycoff, New Jersey.

After two months of quarantine, a night out at the movies was long overdue.

“I’ve been bored in the house for a very long time,” 9-year-old Anastasia told CBS2’s Nick Caloway.


Drive-ins got the green light to open in New York and New Jersey this week.

They’re among the first wave of non-essential businesses now allowed to resume operations.

(Credit: CBS2)

Drive-ins have the obvious benefit of being outdoors with social distancing built right in.

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“It’s a family event around other families. You start doing things that feel normal and it’s still safe,” said Garret Gioe, of Clifton, New Jersey.

Not since their heyday in the 1950s and ’60s have drive-ins been so appealing, and with the coronavirus possibly here for the long haul, other business owners see an opportunity.

The Bel Aire Diner in Astoria, Queens, has transformed its parking lot into a pop-up drive-in theater for 40 cars, selling out the lot a few nights a week for hits like “Grease” and “Dirty Dancing.”

The audience is more grateful to escape the house and reality than the owners could have imagined.

“We had one of our longtime customers tell us, she’s like, ‘Oh my God. I got to park next to my neighbor who lives next door and I haven’t seen them in eight weeks.’ I was like, wow. She was almost on the verge of tears,” Bel Aire Diner general manager Kal Dellaportas said.

Pop-up drive-ins are also planned for New Jersey. A company called “Back to the Movies” is planning pop-up screens at parks and parking lots across the state.

The owners of the Ramsey Theater in downtown Ramsey are hoping to move operations from their indoor location to a yet-to-be-determined parking lot.

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It’s all an effort to give people a safe night out after so many nights in.