Laurel Drive-In

1024 S. Church Street,
Hazleton, PA 18201

500 cars

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The Laurel Drive-In (Official)

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Laurel Drive-In

The Laurel Drive-In opened June 24, 1950 with “Mother Wore Tights”. This single screen drive-in has a capacity for 500 cars. It was closed at the end of the 2017 season due to lack of a digital projector.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

Chris1982 on October 5, 2014 at 11:51 pm

They have not made the conversion to digital projection as yet but plan to for the 2015 season.

adsausage on April 17, 2016 at 10:10 pm

The Monkees ‘Head’ had its first regional showing here in July 1969. The 2nd feature was Pendulum with George Peppard.

MichaelKilgore on December 22, 2017 at 10:08 am

A Coming Soon ad in The Plain Speaker of Hazleton (June 8, 1950) drew a parallel to horse races at the Mount Laurel Race Track 50 years earlier. (Turns out it was built on the race track site.) Maybe some of these names will help some future researcher. The ad read: The final lap of the race to completion at Laurel Drive-In was in full swing on this warm, summer day. (Tuesday to be exact). Pete Yannes, general contractor and designer is well out in front of the field and setting the pace. Screen Erector Hospidor is lagging behind a little. Plasterman Frank Landro is moving up fast pushing Al Yannes and Ray Marchetti riding two carpenter horses. Plumber Louis Uvino sees an opening and with a gust of speed plugs up the leak, fast chasing Clewell and Vogt who are trailing in 7 and 8 positions because they stopped to admire a roof of huge concession stand. Fedulla is electrifying the crowd of curious well wishers and tradesmen by generating more speed and brightening up the way for Sacco and O'Donnell to see the light of day across the first line painted by Krohn Bros.

The associated miniature golf course opened Sunday, June 11. The associated restaurant opened Friday, June 16. The Laurel itself opened (with a soft opening?) Saturday, June 24, showing Mother Wore Tights.

The Laurel’s official grand opening was Friday, July 14 with The Adventures of Robin Hood. The Plain Speaker wrote that the “500-car outdoor theatre (was) owned by Charles V. O'Donnell and Anthony D. Sacco”. It offered RCA in-car speakers and “an all-metal screen over 60 feet high.”

The 1952 Theatre Catalog said the Laurel was owned by Anthony Sacco. According to its Facebook page, the Laurel has been owned by the Sacco family ever since.

In July 1956, owners O'Donnell and Sacco announced a new sound system, extra speakers, and free mini-golf for drive-in patrons. In October 1959, O'Donnell and Sacco, “trading as Laurel Drive-In Theater” were in court about a theater in Tamaqua. A July 1967 article in the Hazleton Standard-Speaker said the drive-in was still owned by Sacco and O'Donnell.

A windstorm blew the roof off the concession stand and damaged the screen on Sept. 10, 1968, and about 50 speaker posts “were torn from the ground”. Sacco and O'Donnell were mentioned as joint owners. So whatever happened to O'Donnell?

A 2014 photo caption said that Frank “Chic” Sacco opened the Laurel in 1950 and his son, just plain Frank Sacco, is the current owner. But a 1952 article in The Plain Speaker mentioned John “Chic” Sacco who chaired a charity drive. How are these folks related to Anthony?

For the 2017 season, the Laurel still hadn’t converted to digital projection. Based on its Facebook posts, it opened in mid-May, closed in mid-September, and except for two classic horror weekends showed only three movies all season – Baywatch, Wonder Woman, and Transformers: The Last Knight.

MichaelKilgore on December 22, 2017 at 10:18 am

One last clue from the MPAs, the owner changed from A. Sacco (1952-59) to T. Sacco (1961-66), back to A. Sacco (1978), then to F. Sacco (1980-88). My guess is that the Laurel’s co-owner in the 1960s became known as Tony, then Frank (the current owner?) took over around 1980.

vadeltachi on February 23, 2018 at 12:06 pm

My family (Sacco) built and operates the Laurel and the now-closed Motor Vu. I can help answer any questions you may have.

For one, Anthony Sacco Sr. was my grandfather. He built the golf driving range there first (ruins of which are still visible near the restaurant building and under the screen), then the restaurant and finally the drive-in. On his death in 1971, his sons, Anthony Jr. and Frank, succeeded him in operating it, and now Frank Sacco is the sole owner and operator.

rivest266 on September 2, 2018 at 12:46 pm

June 24th, 1950 grand opening ad posted.

dansdriveintheater on December 5, 2018 at 5:25 pm

did not open for the 2018 season as they are looking for a digital projector. they also said they might not reopen for the 2019 season. should be listed as closed. the website also says closed thank you for the 2017 season!

Moviefan333 on December 22, 2022 at 8:19 am

Sadly this drive-in never got a digital projector. Went back in 2020 to look at the property. The screen is falling apart. The concession stand and building that houses the snack bar looks like it’s in bad shape. Another Drive in lost

markp on December 22, 2022 at 1:31 pm

Lost and for no reason at all. These film companies couldnt make a handful of 35MM prints for theatres like this??

Kenmore on December 25, 2022 at 9:09 am

Creating 35mm prints is expensive when you no longer mass-order 35mm prints. It’s the same as asking why 8-tracks are no longer being made.

Single and even double-screen theaters have been going out of business for the past half-century. And while I am not a fan of seeing drive-ins go out of business, there are strong economic reasons as to why it has happened.

Wishing it wouldn’t happen is one thing, coming up with an alternative business model that withstands the changes the industry has undergone is another. Considering that today multi-screen theaters are going out of business, re-opening some of these older drive-ins is a challenge to say the least.

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