Cascade Drive-In theater in West Chicago may turn the projector on once again

Drive-in theater

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- You might get to hang the metal speaker on your window again, if a drive-in theater operator gets the green light to reopen.

The Cascade Drive-In on North Avenue in West Chicago opened in 1961. The theater dripped of nostalgia from the retro ads on the screen to the decades old baby bottle warmer you passed by while in line for popcorn - a real blast from the past.

When the landowner chose not to renew the lease in late 2018, the theater operator shut it shutdown.

But COVID-19 precautions, including social distancing, have breathed new life into drive-ins. The theater operator wants to give it another go, giving families a chance to once again bring down the pick-up tailgates or set up the lawn chairs around the car – just like many over decades did to watch Jaws, Star Wars, Terminator or more recent blockbusters.

A public zoning hearing is scheduled for Oct. 6 in West Chicago to reopen the North Avenue theater.

"It's certainly a historic use of the property that we've seen the public pine for in Facebook posts and online petitions," Russell Whitaker, a Naperville attorney representing the land owner, told the Daily Herald. "So with a lot of the infrastructure in place, we think it makes sense to create a productive and tax-generating use of the property."

If the movies start again next year, it would be the Cascade Drive-In’s 60th anniversary.

"While there are some remaining hurdles, we are working cooperatively with property ownership and hope to complete some renovations that will provide a better experience for our guests," Jeff Kohlberg, who ran the drive-in theater for 30 years, said in a statement.