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Shankweiler's Drive-In Theatre to Celebrate 89th Birthday, First Under New Owners | WDIY Local News

Shankweiler's Drive-In Theatre

A historic Lehigh Valley drive-in theater will be celebrating its anniversary this weekend, the first under new ownership.

Shankweiler’s Drive-In Theatre, located in Orefield, will celebrate its 89th birthday this Saturday, April 15.

The theatre said in a release that the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce will join Shankweiler’s at 11 a.m. for a ribbon-cutting ceremony, which will be free and open to the public.

The birthday celebration will occur during regular business hours in the evening and feature a variety of events including face-painting, magic acts by Mark Mysterrio, special guests and more before the movies begin.

The evening’s features will be The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. Tickets for the event and films are available on the theater’s website.

This celebration also marks the grand reopening and start of Shankweiler’s spring/summer 2023 movie season, its first under new owners Matthew McClanahan and Lauren McChesney.

The pair became the theater’s fourth set of owners after purchasing the drive-in in November 2022, and keeping it operational during the winter.

“We were pleasantly surprised to see such strong support for our theater, even in the winter months,” says McClanahan. “It makes me even more excited about what the spring and summer season will bring, not just to us at the drive-in but to our surrounding community.”

“Eighty-nine might not seem like a milestone,” adds McChesney, “but when you’re the oldest, every year is a milestone.”

McClanahan previously ran the Mahoning Drive-In Theater in Lehighton from 2014-2020. He and McChesney also operate The Moving Picture Cinema, a full-service mobile cinema.

Shankweiler’s was first opened on April 14,1934 by hotel owner Wilson Shankweiler, and it and was the second drive-in theater ever built.

It holds a Guinness World Record as the oldest drive-in theater still in continuous operation.

(Original air-date: 4/12/23)

Sarit "Siri" Laschinsky was WDIY's News and Public Affairs Director until 2023.
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