Remember driving to a relative’s home every year for the big Thanksgiving Day meal?

Well, that’s out with COVID-19 ravaging the country.

But all is not lost Rim Country residents.

East Valley-based Showboss AV & Event Management is bringing a bit of nostalgia to Payson with a pop up drive-in experience at the Payson Event Center.

Go back in time for five nights this Wednesday through Sunday. The cost is $25 per carload (no more people allowed than the number of seatbelts in the vehicle) for each of the eight movies.

They’ll screen two different movies Thursday-Saturday and one each on Wednesday and Sunday. You must buy a ticket for both movies to watch both on nights with a twin bill. The audio will be broadcast over an FM signal to your car radio.

The schedule features “Toy Story 4” at 7 p.m. Wednesday; “Elf” at 6:30 p.m. and “Grease” at 9 p.m. on Thursday; “The Polar Express” at 6:30 p.m. and “Christmas Vacation” at 9 p.m. Friday; “Zootopia – Heroes Night” at 6:30 p.m. and “Gremlins” at 9 p.m. Saturday; and “Jurassic Park” at 7 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets must be purchased in advance online at popupdriveinaz.com.

Popcorn, candy and other snacks will be available. Portable restrooms will be available.

The company will construct an LED video wall high enough for people to see the screen from their vehicles.

Patrons are asked to remain in their vehicles except to purchase items from vendors or use the portable restrooms. Masks are required outside of vehicles.

No pets or alcohol are permitted.

Vehicles will be arranged by size and height and to adhere to social distancing guidelines and to obtain optimal viewing for all guests. High-profile vehicles such as SUVs and pickup trucks are required to park in the back and side rows. No lifted trucks or large vans will be admitted.

All movies will be shown regardless of the weather with no refunds. It will probably get chilly, so bring warm clothing and blankets.

Guests should arrive 30 minutes prior to the scheduled showtime. No vehicles will be admitted 15 minutes after the movie starts.

The company says it knows how to put on a show.

“Traditionally we do concerts and touring and different events around the Valley and country,” said Joe Valiente. “We do large format video walls at the state fair and things like that.”

They started doing the pop up drive-in events after COVID-19 led to the cancellation of most concerts and other events they have worked.

“This summer we’d be out touring with 311 or Sublime with the big video walls in the back behind the band,” Valiente said. “With the event business getting turned on its head, I said, ‘What can we do, boys?’ Pre-COVID I thought about doing drive-in stuff but there was no demand.”

But the time was right to re-visit the idea.

“We’ve had a few of these in the Valley and they do pretty well,” Valiente said. “It depends on the movie lineup and what’s going on in the community. Payson is the perfect place for this because there are few entertainment options already, then COVID hits.”

He said he hopes people enjoy what they’re offering.

“There’s a lot that goes into it,” Valiente said. “We’ve been trying to get the word out. We’re just really hoping that people come out because there’s not going to be a lot to do; I mean, there’s really not a lot to do over Thanksgiving. No one’s going to be traveling, and you’re not having the big family events. I’m hoping that this will provide people with something to do and just get people out.”

He brought the event to Payson after working on this year’s Northern Gila County Fair.

“I love Payson,” Valiente said. “I’ve rode my quads in Payson for years and years. It’s amazing to see how the community’s grown.

“We’re not afraid to drive up the hill and bring some entertainment out there. This will be our first step into it and hopefully it goes well.”

To purchase drive-in tickets, visit popupdriveinaz.com.

Contact the reporter at kmorris@payson.com

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(1) comment

Don Evans

What a great idea for some entertainment. I heard it's a sell out for tickets. Maybe this can be done more often at the event center.

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