Mahoning Drive-In

635 Seneca Road,
Lehighton, PA 18235

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Mahoning Drive-In

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The Mahoning Drive-In opened in 1948 and was operated by James Humphries. Initially it had a capacity for 600 cars. In recent years it was owned by Mike and Deb Danchak, who also owned the nearby Angel Theatre in Coaldale. New owners took over the Mahoning Drive-In in 2014.

Open May-September at weekends, it features the area’s largest screen, measuring 120ft wide. It features FM listening devices as well as room for 900 cars. The Mahoning Drive-In is ‘all retro’, featuring 35mm film prints. It also now offers camping on the grounds for an extra $10 per car load.

Contributed by Dave Bonan

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

MahoningDriveIn on March 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm

The Mahoning is being brought up to standards. It is also adding a second screen, digital and neon. A new marquee is being built this summer. More updated pictures will be up soon.

mikedanchak on May 8, 2013 at 7:47 pm

I operate this dr-in from 1999 to now, and it has only one screen 106 ft. wide. Unless a miracle happens that we can afford a digital proj. system, we will probably close for 2014. I & a lot of other people love this dr-in & would hate to see it go…

Mikeoaklandpark on May 10, 2013 at 11:30 am

Great huge screen. This digital conversion really sucks. So many wonderful theaters will be gone.

markp on May 10, 2013 at 2:41 pm

You are so right Mikeoaklandpark. I just lost my full time job yesterday, as the last of the 6 screens in the theatre I worked at went digital. And my owner told me that theatres have to be done even sooner now. It was supposed to be the end of summer, but 20th Fox for one is running out of film stock. They may be able to release 1 or 2 more features on 35mm and thats it. Same for the other companies too. Very sad indeed. I was at this theatre back in the late 90’s when my buddy was manager up the road at the Mahoning Valley Cinema 8. Nice drice-in.

DavidZornig on February 1, 2015 at 1:50 pm

Here is a recent Facebook album of 30+ photos, some of vinatge equipment. Copy and Paste to view when logged in on Facebook.

HowardBHaas on July 20, 2015 at 5:54 am

Inquirer article yesterday on how 2 ex Temple film students + long time projectionist are running it with 35mm films-

melvin on July 23, 2015 at 4:04 am

The Mahoning Drive-In is open this season under new management, as the article above details. They’re a great, film-loving crew and super-friendly. This season they’re going all-retro/all-35mm with an eclectic line-up of themed weekends, with some really rare titles being shown among the classics. They undid the corral setup, and the lot is once again wide open, with the original ticket booth in use. They now offer camping (outdoors or sleeping in your car) for an extra $10 per car, which makes it easier on folks like me who travel long distances to see these rare and amazing shows they’re putting on. Snack bar prices are very inexpensive, too.

ROCKER4EVER on August 9, 2015 at 4:31 pm

Update-This theater is no longer run by the Danchaks,and there is no playground equipment nor flea market,BUT,they are showing 35mm retro shows every weekend,check one out and help support this drive-in, they have a Facebook page

welder1977 on February 23, 2016 at 1:56 pm

Humphries didnt operate the Drive In at Mahoning Valley. He was a Dr a Dentist from Lehighton was one of the ownwers as was Mr Becker from Tamaqua and also my parents William C Shirar and Loretta K.Shirar. My mother did the bookings at and first my dad showed the movies on the screen. They also owned the Mahoning Valley Florial Company located near the Drive In.

bloosoda on August 31, 2016 at 5:36 am

It’s great to see how the Mahoning is hanging in there with film as Hollywood’s supplies of 35mm prints dry up. Prior to these young guys running it, there was a brief episode with a not-so-nice fellow that needed to be posted, while an original article was still available.

Excitement Turns to Concern for Drive-In Trying to Stay Open POSTED 8:55 PM, MAY 10, 2013, BY DAVE BOHMAN WNEP-TV 16 ABC

MAHONING TOWNSHIP — Earlier this spring, volunteers in Carbon County gave up their weekends to save a connection with their past. They helped fix up the Mahoning Drive-In movie theater near Lehighton. They hoped their hard work would keep it open for summers to come. But the theater just off Route 443 also needs $60,000 for a digital projector. Hollywood will soon stop printing films that run on older projectors like the one at the Mahoning Drive-in.

Projectionist Mike Danchak restored the Angela Theater in Coaldale, and he also manages the Mahoning Drive-in. He was contacted this winter by Glen Brannon of Florida. He said Brannon claimed he had a record of saving other old theaters. “He wanted to lease it, and then buy the (Mahoning) Drive-in,” said Danchak. “My only hope was that he would save the drive-in.”

An Action 16 Investigation found that since 2007, Brannon was involved in efforts to renovate drive-ins and theaters in three states. He also worked under the names Russell Brannan or Russel Glen, and his part in and the efforts ended abruptly. Last spring Brannan arranged to lease, then own the Tee Pee Drive-in on historic US Route 66 near Tulsa, Oklahoma. Just like in Carbon County, volunteers in Oklahoma worked hard to fix up the Drive in. A TV station in Tulsa reported that Brannan set an opening date, delayed it twice, and the Tee Pee never did re-open.

Owners of the Sky-View drive-in in Kentucky, and the historic Lawford Theater in Illinois, claim Brannon operated their theaters for a short time, and left after disputes over money. “People don`t want to sit there and listen to what I have to say in order to make things work out,” said Brannan by phone from his home in Florida. Brannan claims he was pointing the Mahoning Drive-in toward profitability, but said he had disagreements with manager Mike Danchak over ticket prices, fund-raising plans, and promotions.

Danchak said Brannan almost cost the Mahoning Drive-in dearly, by selling 250 season passes for $59 a car load. “If we accepted them, we would go bankrupt,” said Danchak, “because we would have nothing but passes all summer.” Danchak said Brannan’s money-losing offer forced the theater to buy the tickets back, leaving the Mahoning Drive-in with just $5,000, and time is running out to get the $60,000 projector. Brannan calls his actions, smart marketing, claiming he brought buzz to a dying drive-in. “I`m sore because here this theater was going to close,” said Brannan, “and I got people that had never known that the theater was still open excited about it.”

As a result of the actions, Mike Danchak said he has scaled back expectations of keeping the Mahoning Drive-in open after this year. He said he hopes to find a used digital projector for a fraction of the cost of a new one.

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