With certain nonessential businesses beginning to reopen Friday, Provo city officials are organizing events that maintain social distancing standards while encouraging families to get out of their houses.
Dozens of Utah County residents answered the call and are set to completely fill the AMC parking lot Friday to enjoy a drive-in movie event organized by the Provo City Parks and Recreation and the Shops at Riverwoods.
Provo City Parks and Recreation event coordinator Aspen Dalton said the free tickets to the first 2020 drive-in event were snatched up almost immediately, with 110 cars expected to completely fill the AMC parking lot Friday evening.
Due to the popularity of the event, Dalton said Provo city officials are planning to host five to six more drive-in movie events at various locations over the next couple months. Movies will range from newer releases to throwback films.
“We wanted to plan things that would get people out of the house in a safe way,” Dalton said. “Cars are our big social distancing tool in that they’re contained.”
The event will begin at 8 p.m. when the drive-in projector will display “Coco” across a taut canvas, but families will be permitted to enter up to an hour early to get comfortable or purchase food from local restaurants that will remain open at the Shops at Riverwoods.
The idea to organize a drive-in came from Provo City Parks and Recreation staffers, who were looking to improve resident morale during the global health and national economic crises.
Dalton said they initially planned on hosting largely virtual events that were heavily tied to phones or social media, but she had a feeling that a significant number of people shared her frustration with the amount of time she was spending looking at screens.
“Every organization or school and workplace was switching online, and I thought people were getting sick of screens,” she said. “So we started brainstorming ways that we could have hybrid events that could still maintain social distancing while also getting people out in some form.”
Before the drive-in, the city hosted the Classic Car Cruise where people could park their vehicles and watch a parade of classic vehicles drive by. The classic vehicle event inspired city employees to organize a drive-in event.
Dalton said the event is also heavily inspired by the Water Gardens in Pleasant Grove, which led the way for Provo staff by showing them it was possible.
City officials had been working with the Shops at Riverwoods on several future events that were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Dalton said city officials jumped at the chance to continue working with the Shops at Riverwood.
To gain access to the event, ticket holders will show staff their ticket through their car windows and flaggers will escort cars to their assigned spots starting from the front and working backwards, Dalton said.
During the movie, attendees will not be permitted to set up chairs or blankets outside of their vehicle or be allowed to sit in the bed of a pickup truck. All patrons must remain in their vehicles for the duration of the movie to abide by continued social distancing recommendations.
Dalton said if any event staff member sees participants leaving their vehicles other than to go to the restroom or purchase food, the movie will be stopped.
Restrooms are available for emergencies and cones marking 10 feet apart are available as a measure if a line does form. Additionally, the drive-in has been advertised as a hero trash event, encouraging patrons to take any trash they bring out with them in an effort to keep staff safe.
Vehicles also will not be permitted to idle during the movie, and headlights and interior lights should be kept off while the film is playing as a general courtesy. As many will be unable to use their vehicles’ air-conditioning and heat, event staff have asked attendees to dress appropriately for the weather.
Dalton said patrons will be permitted to turn their car on once during a planned intermission to ensure the vehicles’ batteries do not die.