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Movie fans head to retro drive-in movie theater for a classical, vintage experience

MAHONING TOWNSHIP, Pa (WBRE) - People are driving across the country to get to a drive-in movie theater in Carbon County.

From the ticket booth, to the concession stand, to the projection room, "It is a time capsule. It is a time machine," said Virgil Cardamone, film booker.

The Mahoning Drive-In Theater near Lehighton is the only all retro drive-in playing classic movies on 35 millimeter film.  

"I just fell in love with the place and that gigantic screen," said Mark Nelson, a movie buff who lives in New Hampshire.

This 109 foot screen is the second largest in the country.

Movie buff, Mark Nelson, has been coming to the drive-in for the past three years. Each time he comes, it's a six and a half hour drive from New Hampshire.

"It's like nothing else you can get anywhere," said Cardamone.

The drive-in has been open since 1948. But when Virgil and Matt took over, there was a lot of work to be done.

"When we started four years, we were looking at three or four car nights; people wandering in from seeing the marquee, now that's turned into people driving across the country," said Matthew McClanahan, manager.

Their goal-- to make it a retro destination where movie buffs can come and celebrate their fandom.

"People show up in costume, they have t-shirts for the movies, they bring props, they have vehicles -- like when the 'Back to the Future' movies run, they show up with dolorians," said Nelson.

"It has truly become like a comic con atmosphere here," said Cardamone.

This weekend it opens for its 69th season, with its annual double feature 'The Wizard of Oz' and 'Willy Wonka'.

Gates open at 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The first movie usually starts once it's dark out, around 8:30. There's an intermission between films. Then film number two takes the screen.

And it's not just the movies that are a step back in time; the theater also shows old movie trailers and intermission reels .

"It's kind of magical," said Nelson.

You can even spend the night.

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