Tropicaire Drive-In

7751 Bird Road,
Miami, FL 33155

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jdoc001
jdoc001 on May 17, 2013 at 12:16 am

target took over the property and built a superstore there where it still stands

Harvey
Harvey on March 24, 2008 at 12:12 am

DRIVE – IN TO SHOW ITS LAST PICTURE
Miami Herald, The (FL) – July 10, 1987

Author: GEOFFREY TOMB Herald Staff Writer

A lot of firsts happened indrive – in movies: First kisses. Baby’s first night out. First swallows of beer. First scary movie.

Now you count lasts. Dade’s next-to-last drive – in , the Tropicaire at Bird Road and the Palmetto Expressway, will be closing down. It was called the South’s most modern drive – in when it opened in February 1949.

Gone will be the Americana of the Tropicaire ’s peeling green facade, pink and green neon and 10 palm trees poking out of planters behind the 40-foot screen. The palm fronds blow in the breeze as if summer nights are forever.

The Tropicaire will go the way of the Dixie (1979 for a Publix) and the Golden Glades (1981 for a warehouse). Dade, which had 19 drive – ins 25 years ago, will be left with just the
Turnpike Twin, at 12850 NW 27th Ave.

Thursday, the Metro Commission approved zoning changes that would allow developers to build a 287,000-square-foot shopping center on the 28-acre Tropicaire site, now used Thursday through Sunday nights for last-run, pre-video movies and on weekend days for a flea market. Its future is also dim.

“The flea market on Saturdays and Sundays was the only thing that really kept us going,” said Keith McComas, Tropicaire ’s owner. He is 69.

“It used to be we would have 1,500 to 2,000 on a good night. Now we are lucky if we get 200 people in there on a Friday or Saturday.”

There were 27 paid parked in the lot Thursday at 8:38 p.m. when Three Amigos flickered on. Platoon was the second feature.

Some views on drive – ins from Tropicaire customers:

“It is just being out of doors in the evening when the sun goes down,” said Arthur Brill. He drove from Homestead with his wife, Judy, and seven kids sitting in the bed of a blue Ford pick up.

“We can take all the neighbor’s kids,” said Judy Brill.

Kids under age 12 are free. Adults are $2.50. For $5 the Brills treated nine to a double feature show. No one at a drive – in calls them films.

“ Drive – ins are as American as apple pie,” said Jim Spittler of North Bay Village. “This one has the best corn dogs in Florida.”

“You can dress casual, relax, kick off your shoes and prop up your feet,” said Bill Freeland of South Carolina.

“It’s a shame,” said Terri Jaramillo of Homestead. “Now we will have to stay home and watch TV.”

Her bumper sticker read “Too Many Boys. Not Enough Men.”

“We will miss the place. There is enough shopping centers,” said Donna Stomick of Kendall.

Bill Ogden, president of Brancroft Development, said the group hopes to build a “Key West-style” shopping plaza of about 50 stores and more than 1,100 parking spaces on the spot. It will be called Tropicaire Center. This will happen in six months, said theater owner McComas.

Dade Mayor Steve Clark had his own views on the new shopping center: “It will be an upgrading of the property.”

touch50
touch50 on January 30, 2008 at 10:17 am

The Tropicaire Drive In is one of my fondest childhood memories. I lived in Miami from the early fifties until 1960. My father worked for the City of Miami in the landscape dept. But, his second job was as a cook at the Drive In. Of course, this entitled my family to free admission so especially in the summer while school was out we saw many double features. We would always arrive early before dark and my brother and I would walk the parking aisles searching for change dropped by careless movie goers. Some evenings we did quite well. But about dark we would have to be sure to be in the car with the windows up as there would be a truck coming thru spraying/fogging for mosquitoes. I believe they used DDT at that time. I was first introduced to pizza at the theater. I can still smell and taste it till this day. I am sure it was just a premade boxed pizza but I have never tasted one better. Ah, the theater is gone, my dad is gone and my brother is gone but the memories will be with me forever.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on July 11, 2007 at 6:42 am

Several shots the Dixie Drive-in, Perrine/Goulds can be seen on this website.

http://www.pbase.com/donboyd/image/81425318

Louis of Pompano
Louis of Pompano on August 14, 2006 at 2:58 pm

The Coral Way Drive in was a very busy theatre. I have no idea when it closed, but the last movie I saw there was Smokey and The Bandit!!!

I saw MASH, the original movie, at the Golden Glades Drive In. Back in those days, the Golden Glades was in the woods, there wasn’t much back there.

I listed the 27th Avenue Drive In, unique in the fact that it was the only air conditioned drive in.

The Tropicaire also held several fairs there before it became a flea market. The Around The World Fair was held there at one time. That fair was put on by the Museum of Science. This was quite a while ago, the song Time of The Season by the Zombies was the number one hit, so go figure on the actual year!

PEP
PEP on August 4, 2006 at 11:37 pm

The first flea market I ever went to was at this drive-in in the late 60’s. At night there were cool lighting effects along the driveway and cashiers booth. I am usually really good at remembering what movies I saw where but oddly can’t reacall a single film at Tropicaire that my parents took me to see.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on May 5, 2006 at 10:41 pm

The Dixie Drive I know was on US 1 in Goulds, so Perrine must be the one as those two towns are close.

LeJeune Drive-In, 27th Avenue & LeJeune Road.
Wometco’s 27th Avenue Drive-In, NW 27th & 87th Street
Turnpike Drive-In, NW 27th Avenue & 128th Street
Wometco’s No. Dade Drive-In, 27th Avenue & 171st Street
E.M. Loew’s Miami Drive-In, NW 7th Avenue & 79th STreet
Wometco’s Coral Way Drive-In, SW 24th Street & 70th Avenue
Golden Glades Drive-In, Palmetto EXpressway and 37th Avenue

I also found the No. Andrews, Gulfstream, Arrow, Breezeway, Gold Coast Drive-In

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 5, 2006 at 5:13 pm

Lost… not to stray too far off topic, but the very first time I saw “King Kong” was on the Million Dollar Movie. That week, they were running “Kong” every day for the entire week. I caught the tale end the first time as I was coming home with my Grandfather one day (I was probably around 7 or 8 and back in NYC) and when I saw the big gorilla on top of the Empire State Building, I asked what movie this was. My Grandfather responded “Oh, poor King Kong” in the most sympathetic voice. I learned the movie was being repeated the next day and made sure I watched it from the very beginning. It might have been ‘73 to commemorate the film’s 40th anniversary that they were running it all week. Then of course, I remember all those Thanksgiving fests (and the Godzilla flicks on the following Friday). Then in '76 or so, my Grandad took me to see the restored 100 minute version of Kong (with some of the more violent and risque '40’s re-release trims added back in) for 10 cents admission when it ran at the D.W. Griffith Theater on East 59th Street in New York.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on May 5, 2006 at 5:31 am

I will find out where the Dixie was as I have some old Miami Herald clippings. Do you guys remember the Coral Way, Turnpike, Boulevard, LeJeune, Golden Glades East/West, Miami, North Dade, & 27th Avenue?

I was not a big drive-in fan and the Tropicaire Boulevard, and Golden Glades (STAR WARS – first run) were my only experiences.

Fort Lauderdale had the Hi Way near the airport, possibly the first eleven-plex drive-in in the USA. The Thunderbird Swapshop is still there but the Lakeshore and Davie are gone.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 5, 2006 at 4:38 am

I should say “two different locations in Miami”…

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 5, 2006 at 4:37 am

The movie you describe is how I remember “The Beast in the Cellar”, Lost. I remember thinking there would be an actual “beast” as in monster down there, but it was really just this creepy guy with long unkept hair and beard who behaved like an animal. As for the “Godzilla” sequels being silly, hey… I was 7 years old! And after having caught up with all the Godzilla movies on WPIX and WOR TV (not to mention the 4:30 movie on WABC), I have to say that “Smog Monster” was certainly the wildest and nuttiest of the bunch!

Having been so young at the time, I can’t say which of the two drive-ins we frequented most or which films we saw where… but the name Tropicaire and the neon flair of it’s signange certainly stayed with me over the years. I want to say that one of these drive-ins was fairly close to a hard-top theater maybe across the street or down the block? But I can’t be certain at all. We lived in two different locations in Florida – spending most of the time in a courtyard complex of two-story apartment buildings on Carrol Way. (That may only be one “r”, but again, my memory is fuzzy).

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on May 4, 2006 at 10:49 am

Ed, the drive-in on South Dixie Highway was probably the Dixie.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 4, 2006 at 10:09 am

Wow. Thanks, Lost Memory. This is one of two drive-in theater’s my parents took me to with great frequency while we lived in Miami from the summer of 1971 until the summer of ‘72. I can’t recall the name of the other theater, but my Mom tells me she thinks it was located on the Dixie Hwy. We saw many double features here. Well, actually, my parents did since I was usually fast asleep within the first 5 minutes of the 2nd feature. My parents would often tell me that this was a good thing as many of the 2nd features turned out to be rated R (even when the first feature was PG) and were quite explicit in their sexuality and violence. I can’t recall many of the titles we saw here or how they paired up.

One double bill I definitely remember vividly was “Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster” backed up by a little something called “The Return of Count Yorga” – one of the rare 2nd features I stayed completely awake through – that frightened the hell out of me! Another title I recall is “The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant”, a low budget horror flick featuring Bruce Dern, Pat Priest (of Munsters TV-show fame) and top-40 radio DJ Casey Kasem! I can’t recall the supporting film. Another title that comes to mind is “The Beast in the Cellar”, which creeped me out, and the British import “Blood on Satan’s Claw”. I only have fleeting memories of most of this, as I was only 6 – 7 years old at the time, but there are still some visuals from these movies that have stayed with me through the years. Even as I’ve caught one or two of these flicks on TV since moving back to NYC, when I come to certain moments in each movie, I travel back in time and still see the image through the windsheild of my Dad’s red ‘68 Volvo, peering from the back seat between my parents’ shoulders.

Now… if only I could remember which NY theater it was where my Dad took me to see the double feature of “The House That Dripped Blood” and “Dracula, Prince of Darkness” just before we left for Florida in ‘71!!!

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on May 4, 2006 at 3:10 am

Saw a kung fu triple feature here in the early eighties when a film distributor asked me to do a car count. The movies were as interchangeable as porn and the drive-in crowd included many pick-up trucks loaded with migrants workers I assume came from nearby Homestead. Little tubes provided in-car air conditioning for the year round Florida heat and the windshield wipers had to be activated in order to keep the palmetto bugs from blocking the screen.