By Susan Melnyk, Visual Information Specialist of USAG Bavaria MWR
Photo Courtesy of Janeth Escajeda, Graphic Arts Designer of USAG Bavaria MWR, and Sgt. Grant Healy
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — USAG Bavaria MWR offered their first drive-in movie experience on May 15 and 16, to an overwhelming community response.
“Both nights booked up within minutes of us opening registration, and we received more than 200 emails for the 80 spots available, before we were able to close the registration page,” said Tierra Maull, theatre specialist at the Grafenwoehr Performing Arts Center and part of the dedicated team that worked to make this event possible. “It was incredible!”
Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers volunteers — wearing masks and gloves — directed traffic and handed out popcorn from the USO to nearly 200 community members who attended in 80 cars. The two-night event was sponsored by the Tower Barracks and Rose Barracks libraries.
The drive-in atmosphere was nostalgic for many attendees. “Several patrons told me about the fond memories they have about visiting drive-ins with their own parents,” Maull explained. “A gentleman, who attended Friday night’s movie with his young son, thanked us several times for putting the event together and said that his son had a fantastic time.”
Community members were vocal about the experience, leaving comments on Facebook over the weekend, including:
“We had such a great time! Thank you from the bottom of our heart.”
“It was so amazing!!!!”
Staff from USAG Bavaria’s Directorate of Public Works, Installation Operations Center, FMWR Sports & Fitness, Camp Algier Recreation Center and the Combined Arms Training Center lent a hand to make the drive-in possible. The wall of a building was painted white to serve as the screen, and cabling was run to sound and projection equipment. Cars were spaced out — leaving a parking space between each vehicle — and patrons remained in their cars throughout the movie.
“Like many other places worldwide, our community has been doing its part to keep everyone safe by reducing social contact,” Maull said.
Since COVID-19 precautionary measures were first implemented, USAG Bavaria MWR has offered virtual programming through their website and Facebook pages for the communities on Tower Barracks, Rose Barracks, Hohenfels and in Garmisch. Programming has included online contests, Underground Cinema Club movie recommendations, Child and Youth Services activity videos, stay-at-home ideas and virtual story time — read by local librarians and USAG Bavaria Command Sgt. Maj. Micheal Sutterfield. More than 45 videos have been created and shared with the community, and hundreds of online questions answered.
As for the drive-in, will the popular event continue?
“Absolutely,” Maull says. “We’re already planning the next one for Memorial Day weekend, and we’re rehearsing two theatrical productions, virtually. We may be six feet apart, but we’re definitely in this together.”
Learn more about USAG Bavaria MWR at grafenwoehr.armymwr.com.