PARMA – Since 1953, The Parma Motor-Vu has been one of the only drive-in movie theaters in the valley, not to mention one of the first. This operational landmark has been drawing in audiences for over sixty years and continues to entice moviegoers with the latest Hollywood releases.
There have been many changes since the theater opened its gates back in 1953. Sound being one of these changes. Rather than pulling up to a stationary speaker affixed to a pole to hang on a car window, 1977 was a year that saw an upgrade to using radio sound. According to the history section of the Parma Motor-Vu’s website, there were many instances of broken car windows resulting from people forgetting to remove the speaker before driving away.
In addition to using a car radio (tuned to 105.5 FM), patrons can use an app on their smartphones to tune into the audio for the film. This is a free app called Next Radio, management has learned from customers.
One aspect of the business that has not changed, however, is the popcorn machine which has been in service since the very beginning, a fact that is announced on the Motor-Vu’s main page of their website. Karen Cornwell, daughter of founder, Bill Dobbs, states, “I am now officially retired, unofficially still popping corn.” Cornwell’s daughter, Susan Haaheim is who runs the show now as the owner.
The biggest upgrade this historical cinema has undergone most recently was in 2013, when it made the change to digital film presentation. Cornwell explained, “The best reason for going that route, other than a beautiful presentation, is the availability to first run movies. Before we would have to wait for a print to be available.”
This venue welcomes every movie-watching patron — even furry ones, as dogs are welcome at the Parma Motor-Vu.