Community Spotlight: Pop-Up Drive-In Movie Theater in Main Street Coon Rapids

November 12, 2020 | Community Spotlight: Pop-Up Drive-In Movie Theater in Main Street Coon Rapids | By: Katie Mason, Executive Director, Main Street Coon Rapids | 
The crowd gathered on Main Street to watch Trolls World Tour on the big screen. Photo credit: Main Street Coon Rapids

An entire block of downtown Coon Rapids, Iowa, was closed Friday, August 7 and again on Saturday, September 26 to make way for pop-up drive-in movie nights that provided a unique and engaging event for the entire family. The events were dubbed “Movies on Main” and are the result of several businesses and individuals working together to pull off an idea hatched by the Main Street Coon Rapids (MSCR) organization.

“It’s just the coolest thing,” said Katie Mason, Executive Director of MSCR. She credited the MSCR’s Promotion Committee, led by Natasha Adams of rural Coon Rapids, for the initial idea of creating the temporary drive-in movie theater. She was helped by Jen Derner, Janelle Kracht, and Jim Mohr.  

The creation story of the pop-up drive-in theater’s screen is emblematic of the strength of the Main Street program’s partnerships. Mason credited Iowa-based Accu-Steel Fabric Covered Buildings owners Alison-Brinker and Jason Owne for donating the material to make the screen. The fabric is the same Accu-Steel uses for constructing hoop buildings, which are typically created for grain storage, cattle barns, or equipment storage. Instead of housing cattle, this material was used to house the colorful world of Trolls World Tour and Denzel Washington’s famous pep talk from Remember the Titans.

The fabrication of the frame for the screen was accomplished through another partnership with Jim Mohr of Mohr Construction and the DRAGO crew—Kyler South, Brent Reineke and Lucas Richardson. This team spent over 60 hours building the screen. Upon its completion, the size of the finished screen was 22 feet by 15 feet. Mason reports that this size fits well installed on Coon Rapids Main Street.

The screen that was installed 40 feet in the air within the commercial district, near the intersection of Fifth and Main, facing east. “We have to use a telehandler to lift it into the air,” said Mason. “It’s so high and heavy that a skid loader won’t do it."

Fifty-six vehicles and estimates of over 225 people attended the first showing of the family-friendly Trolls World Tour in August. Parking attendants arranged vehicles between Fifth and Fourth Avenues to maximize the parking area. Vehicles lined up in four rows facing the movie screen. Some families brought pickup trucks lined with air mattresses so the kids could sack out, if necessary. Others sat in lawn chairs or in the back of their SUVs. A low-power FM radio transmitter was used to broadcast the audio to FM radios on the parked cars.

“The opportunity to use this system in the future is fantastic,” Mason continued. “This won’t be a one-time thing. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to the partnerships in this project.”

Sponsored by the Main Street Coon Rapids organization in partnership with CR Public Library, ET Products, Drago SCI, South Sign Company and Mohr Construction, the event was an exciting way for families to gather and enjoy an innovative twist on the old-fashioned drive-in movie.