(Hillary Hampton)
The "marathon" has begun as people from all over are voting to save one of our local treasures, the Graham Drive-In Theater. In a few short months, drive-ins from across America will be converting from film to digital projection, causing many of them to shut down due to the overwhelming cost. In an effort to aid the already dying American past time, Project Drive-In, sponsored by Honda, will be donating five digital projectors to the locations that receive the most votes. J. and Erin Hawkins, the current managers, are passionate about saving the theater. "This is about saving a piece of small town history, a piece of Texas history, and a piece of American History," says Erin. The theater has been a tourist attraction for many years, not only having historical See DRIVE-IN, Page 10 value, but economical as well. "A good portion of our customers come from out of town, they are bringing money into Graham", says Erin. The theater also hosts fundraising activities , helping Bailey Auto Plaza raise over $10,000 last year worth of toys and cash for Toys for Tots. As for the digital projector, the cost may be outlandish, pushing the one hundred thousand dollar mark, but the benefits will be well worth it as far as they are concerned. "Did you know it takes two feet of film to make one second of a movie", says J, " a two hour movie is about 2.7 miles long!" Along with saving on the shipping cost, the digital projector will also help the quality of the movies. "The digital projector should actually look better and brighter on the screen, and also will improve the sound", says Erin. For those who enjoy the vintage drive-in feel, the Hawkins assure that the new digital era will not change the "essence" of the theater. "The poles with the speaker boxes will still be there, the sweet little snack bar will still be there, and the experience of enjoying a movie under the stars with your family and friends will still be there as well", says Erin. Community members have banned together to promote the contest and are resolved to see that Graham Drive-In is victorious. Citizens also got involved by helping create the contest video which portrayed the theater as being "Zombie Free Since 1977", though people wonder "what happened the first 22 years", says J mysteriously. Voting, which began on Aug. 9th, will end on Sept. 9th and the Hawkins have high hopes. "We need everyone to vote daily", says Erin. You can vote online at www.projectdrivein.com, or via text message , send Vote30 to 444999. There are also other ways to aid the cause. On the Project Drive-In website, digital badges and PDF flyer downloads are available. You can also "Pledge" to visit the drive-in this season, or even donate directly to the fund. T-shirts, featuring the "Zombie Free" logo, will also be available for purchase this weekend.