Cherry Bowl stays open

Northern Michigan gets to hang on to one of its landmarks - thanks to our community and a little help from Honda.

The Cherry Bowl Drive-In theater is a winner for Honda's Project Drive-In campaign - a national month-long effort to save drive-ins across the U.S. as they change to digital projectors.

Owner Laura Clark, who purchased the drive-in in 1997 from the original owner, said this was truly a community joint effort that many benefit from. Both locals and tourists take advantage of the restaurants, camp sites, and gas stations all nearby the theater.

In celebration of staying open, the Cherry Bowl opened just for Thursday night (after closing September 1st). Thursday night all entry fees, food, and mini-golf were free and cars started lining up by six o-clock.

Owners say it's the atmosphere that makes the Cherry Bowl different from any other drive-in - it's focused on the family. The theater is a place where the kids can come (they never show anything over PG-13) and it's where people come and make memories. Laura Clark said they can't thank the community, and Honda, for all of the support.

"It leaves me speechless, it really does," said Clark. "The community has been so much a part of the drive-in - they're what supports the drive-in. Their outpouring of love and support, year after year is just fantastic!"

You may see a few changes going on with the projection booth. To protect the new equipment, the projection room needs to be air conditioned in the summer and heated in the winter - even though they are closed. Insulation and siding will be put up on the outside so as not to disturb any of the sixty-year-old wiring.

Clark said they would like to keep a 35mm film and projector in the booth for display and for educational purposes for the next generation.

Clark also noted she's heard the digital projectors produce a brighter, cleaner picture, and they can't wait to open next May.