Orange Park Mall showing free drive-in movies

Throwback entertainment provided with COVID-19 guidelines

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ORANGE PARK – Drive-In movies are back in Clay County.

What was once a staple of entertainment but faded out with increased technology over time is back – at least for the time being – the Orange Park Mall.

“Cinema Under the Stars,” as the free drive-in is called, requires one ticket a vehicle. The tickets can be gotten online at EventBrite.

From Thursday to Sunday nights at 9 p.m., over a four-week run, the mall is providing moviegoers to see movies in the JC Penney parking lot showing Marvel, Disney and Pixar films.

Orange Park Mall and their parent company, Washington Prime Group, partnered with the Arts District to create an outdoor movie-going experience for local viewers.

“This has been an overwhelming experience to be able to provide this to Clay County,” said Randy Bowman, OP Mall General Manager. “To watch people come out with their families and experience drive-ins for the very first time, or for others to bring back memories, people who haven’t gotten out before because they’re still a little bit nervous are coming out to this. It’s a way to bring their families out, and people are having a lot of fun with it.”

The viewers were guided in their vehicles to their spots, which were positioned to maintained social distancing guidelines. Some remained inside their cars for the duration of the films, others got out and sat in folding or lawn chairs. Some with pickup trucks even set up comfortable cushioning in the truck beds and watched from there.

To help augment the experience, some food trucks such as Father’s Heart BBQ, Caveman Shaved Ice, Kona Shaved Ice and Honey Roasted Corn have also been onsite (the mall did not charge them) so that moviegoers could purchase snacks and food.

“The first week was a little slow [in terms of turnout],” said Chelsea Commodari, Marketing Director for the mall. “We have the capacity in the lot with social distancing guidelines for about 250 cars with six feet between each car and the ability for cars to pull out if they need to. The first weekend we saw about 65-75 cars. The second week we’ve been at about 150.

“We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from the community. Obviously, it’s a free event. We wanted to do something to bring the community together in a safe way, and I think that this a great opportunity for my generation and younger generations to be able to experience this. It’s very nostalgic, and I think people are really enjoying it, so I’m very happy.”

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