The full history of the Skyview Drive-In in Carmichaels, Pennsylvania is shrouded in a cloud of mystery. Supposedly, the drive-in was built in 1946 and opened in July of ‘46. The current owners, Charles (Chuck) and Elizabeth (Liz) Walker bought the drive-in in April of 2007 after a long, personal history there.
“I had started working there in the summer of ‘99 and I roped my husband Charles into being the manager in 2001 when the owner needed a manager,” Liz Walker said.
When on active duty, Chuck Walker started as a custodian at a theatre, and by the time he was out of service he was managing it entirely .
“And that’s how I ended up being qualified to manage the drive-in,” Chuck Walker said.
Like most businesses, COVID-19 put a damper on the Walkers’ plans for a summer opening last year. They had planned to open in early March of 2020, but because of the governor’s orders, they weren’t permitted to open until May 15.
“At that point we didn’t have any new movies. All we were able to show were retros all summer,” Liz Walker said.
Being open during these winter months is not normal for the Skyview Drive-In.
“We only stayed open to try to help the community,” Chuck Walker said. “We’re trying to make sure everyone [the community] had something to do.”
Chuck Walker also said that social distancing was something that was easy to implement at the drive-in by spacing the cars out at every other parking spot, which put an easy 20 feet between each car. All CDC guidelines are being followed at the drive-in. All employees wear masks, and it is asked of the customers to wear one too if they are going to leave their vehicle. A mask is not required inside the vehicle at the drive-in.
Even with the pandemic forcing everyone apart, the drive-in has stayed open to bring everyone together again, from young children to the elderly.
“We have audience [members] that come to the drive in from one to a hundred [years old],” Chuck Walker said. “We try to keep everything here for nostalgia. I do my best to keep everything in order and as close to original as possible.”
“Not exactly for the older generation,” Liz Walker said. “It’s for everyone.”
The drive-in holds a lot of memories for the community as well.
“We’ve had people that supposedly proposed here,” Chuck Walker said.
“We had an older woman come in and she had to come visit the drive-in because this is where she and her husband had their first date. And she had just lost her husband not long before she visited,” Liz Walker said.
During a normal season, the drive-in would not be open in February. A normal season would have the opening somewhere between mid-March and mid-April depending on weather. The drive-in would close around mid-October.
Liz Walker said that she wants to keep the drive-in open for notalgia purposes and so the next generation can experience it.
“There is more to going to see the movies than just going into a building and watching a movie inside,” Liz Walker said. “You can actually sit outside and enjoy yourself. You don’t have to worry about talking. It’s just watching the movies under the stars and just being with your friends and family.”