'It's an experience' to see a flick at the oldest drive-in in Georgia

'It's an experience' to see a flick at the oldest drive-in in Georgia

JESUP, GA (WTOC) - In such modern times, one can't help but wonder how a drive-in has continued to thrive among increasingly popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, which eliminate the need to even travel to see a movie.

Ralph Hickox, the owner of Jesup Drive-in, has an answer.

"People tend to come more for the experience than just the movie," he said.

Hickox described the extent of the experience at a traditional theater is limited to purchasing a ticket and sitting in a chair.

"We make sure that it's not just a movie," Hickox said. "It's an experience. We do our best to make it authentic."

One of those experiences is Valentine's Day. Around Feb. 14, the drive-in sees a small uptick in business as people travel to Jesup to take a film with their sweethearts.

When Hickox says authentic, he's talking about his theater's use of carhops in poodle skirts. It's return to the patient, old-school definition of "hanging out": The beauty of the drive-in is that the hours continue to change to accommodate the changing daylight hours. The movies don't start until dark, but Hickox makes sure there's plenty to do until then, such as playing cornhole.

It's the kind of place for people who like to enjoy the fading traces of daylight eating snacks in their car until the movie starts rolling.

The drive-in is the oldest left standing in Georgia. In its lifetime, the small, two-screen drive-in has only had three owners with Hickox being the most recent. He also owns the Historic Strand Dinner Cinema in downtown Jesup, which offers a dinner-and-movie experience.

"It's not just a business," he said. "You go to work, and you do call these things when you want to do something special. It's part of everybody's positive memories. A movie theater, or drive-in, in this case, just inherently becomes a part of it."

The drive-in is currently open Thursday-Sunday on U.S. Route 301 in Jesup, and its movies start as soon as it gets dark. Its website has a list of what's showing.

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