McHenry Outdoor Theatre Going Dark?
McHENRY, IL — The McHenry Outdoor Theatre, which has been entertaining McHenry County residents since 1955, and is one of only three operating drive-ins in Chicagoland, may be having its last season this year, according to the Chicago Tribune. The still very popular theater located between the village of Lakemoor and the city of McHenry is surrounded by ever-encroaching development, and for a couple years now, there has been the rumor of the McHenry Outdoor’s demise.
The theater’s manager, Danielle Munnich, does acknowledge that the owner of the McHenry, Tom Rhyan, doesn’t have a buyer but is in fact considering selling the property. “So far no one has made the right offer.” says Munnich. Just last week, Gary Castaldo, a DJ on STAR-105 FM, made news by having himself chained to a tree on the drive-in property to raise awareness of the drive-in’s potential closure, saying he’d remain there until he got 5,000 signatures on his petition to save the theater (which he did in six hours).
The McHenry has recently been part of a border dispute between the city of McHenry and the neighboring village of Lakemoor. McHenry has petitioned the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission to provide the sewer and water service for the drive-in, and if it is granted, to afterward annex the property. Lakemoor, which currently controls the property, is naturally opposed to the petition.
Whichever community ends up with the property will benefit from the commercial redevelopment should it occur. Brian Gunst, a drive-in employee who met his wife at the McHenry has been hearing about the closing of the theater for years, but doesn’t put much stock in them. “I hope it never closes,” Gunst says.