Taking the drive out of drive-in movies

Fresh Air Flix offers an outdoor theater experience right in your own back yard. Submitted photo

One of the many activities that people have had to give up during the coronavirus pandemic has been going to the movies with their families. A local business is hoping to bring the movie theater experience to people who are staying home.

Fresh Air Flix, which was co-founded by Marie Snyder and Tracy Hale Clark, was born in a conversation the two had last fall, but resurfaced again during the early days of the statewide lockdown.

“We sort of put it on the back burner,” Snyder said, “but when Covid-19 hit, I called Tracy and said, ‘We have to do this.’”

Snyder and Clark know each other well through their work together at the Louisa County Chamber of Commerce, where Snyder is board president and Clark, executive director.

The pair spent several weeks working out the details for their enterprise and began doing some “dry runs” of the service with their families and friends in May.

Through Fresh Air Flix, families can rent all the equipment they need to set up their own outdoor movie theater, including a projector, screen and speakers. A blu-ray player is available for rent, if needed. The only thing not provided is the movie. Fresh Air Flix will bring the equipment and set it up, and retrieve it the next day.

“We’re trying to take the ‘drive’ out of drive-in,” Snyder said. “I love going to the drive-in, but one of the worst parts is driving home late when the kids are tired. This way, the kids can watch a movie outside and then go to bed, and the parents can stay up and watch a movie. If you’re stuck at home, it’s something the whole family can do outside.”

Fresh Air Flix had what Clark calls a “soft launch” over Memorial Day weekend, and since then she says momentum has “started to pick up.”

Part of the reason response has been so positive, she thinks, is a desire in people to have the experience of going to the movies, but also wanting to be safe from the coronavirus.

“Even with things starting to open up again, I think it will be a while before people feel comfortable going to a crowded theater,” she said. 

While an outdoor movie theater is their primary offering, the equipment is available for numerous kinds of other events, including weddings and anniversaries.

“If you want to do something with a screen, we’ve got you covered,” Clark said.

Beginning in the next week or so, Clark says they’ll be offering packages for graduation parties for students who “missed the opportunity to celebrate” in the traditional way due to the restrictions on large gatherings. They’re also available for larger community events, and will partner with Mid-Atlantic Water Sports to host a boat-in on June 20 at the Boardwalk at Lake Anna.

In the future, Clark hopes that they’ll be able to add snacks and drinks to their packages and provide a “full-service movie night.”

“Right now, though, we want to give families and the community the opportunity to have a movie-going experience and be able to see each other,” she said.

To learn more about Fresh Air Flix, visit their website at freshairflix.biz.

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