Demolition starts at Everett’s Puget Park Drive-In

Demolition of Puget Park Drive-In, Snohomish County’s last drive-in theater, began this week with crews tearing down its red-and-blue concession stand. The property, which borders I-5 in south Everett, will make way for a stand-alone emergency medical facility operated by Seattle-based Swedish Health Services. The three-story building is expected to open early next year and will also house medical offices.

Swedish’s development does not include 5 acres of the drive-in site where the movie screen now stands. That still belongs to the company that operated the drive-in, Sterling Realty Organization Co. in Bellevue. At least for now, the screen will remain up.

Thousands of people have signed onto Facebook pages devoted to the Puget Park Drive-In since plans were announced to permanently close the theater. The pages, which were aimed at keeping the drive-in open, can be found at http://tinyurl.com/pugetpark1 and http://tinyurl.com/pugetpark2. Here are some quotes from the two pages:

“We love the drive-in and we would be ending something that helped to keep families together and still fairly affordable. Nothing better that getting in your PJ’s, bringing blankets, pillows and popcorn! Then having all the children pretend to be asleep, so you will carry them to bed. (Let’s) not get rid of them, let’s improve them!”

— Natalee, 12:23 p.m., March 14

“I am sad to hear of the closing (just found this group via a fellow member of the Mariner class of ‘73). I worked a few summers at Puget Park Drive-In, both movie nights (saw “Patton” there, among others) and swap meets. I’m guessing summers of ‘72, ‘73. I’m actually amazed that it stayed open this long. Keep the group going, so I can come by and look at the photos.”

— James, 6:05 p.m. March 15

“At Puget Park Drive-In, it didn’t matter what was playing, all that mattered was it was we were going to the drive-in. We are so fortunate and blessed the Sterlings were so generous to share and create so many magical memories over the years, in front of the big screen, tuned to 107.3.”

— Robert

“Falling asleep during “Batman Begins,” swap meets, buying burgers, the fun of the movies, hanging with friends here, and it’s only about two miles from my house, a pretty simple bike ride. There is no way this place can be torn down.”

— Dylan Phifer, 5:52 p.m. March 23

“I remember going there as a kid. We didn’t have much money to do things growing up so me and my family looked forward to going to the drive-in during the summer. It is a part of my childhood. Thanks for the great memories. You will be missed!”

— Andre Taylor, 7:35 p.m. April 27

The Puget Park Drive-In held its last showing during the fall with a triple-feature of “Nine,” “The Proposal” and “District 9.” Over the years, hundreds of movies were shown at the outdoor theater.

Bobbi Rayes, a long time manager at the drive-in, said one of her favorite movie memories was of Johnny Depp in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films. Drive-in employees wore T-shirts with drawings of Depp and other of the movies’ stars on them, she said.

Managers had T-shirts with a red pirate on the chest and shoulder, she said, “and that famous picture of Johnny Depp on the back.”

“Then of course we had bandannas on our head,” Rayes said.

When Jim Carrey starred as the Riddler in “Batman Forever,” Rayes made a lime-green party: “I went to the store, bought a bunch of T-shirts colored those colors and put question marks all over them. People coming in wanted to buy them off the kids.”

Puget Park Drive-In was the fifth and last drive-in to open in Snohomish County. Here’s a run down on the history of Snohomish County drive-ins:

  • Sno-King: Opened June 1, 1948. 17310 Highway 99 in Alderwood Manor. Closed in 1986. Capacity: 742 cars.
  • Sky-Vu: Opened May 16, 1950. Near the intersection of 34th and Pine streets in Everett. Closed in the mid 1950s. Capacity for 250 cars.
  • Everett Motor Movie: Opened April 12, 1951. Near the intersection of 75th Street and Evergreen Way. Closed in 1978. Capacity for 736 vehicles.
  • Thunderbird Drive-In. Opened: May 1, 1959. On Highway 99 in Marysville. Closed November 1992. Capacity of 500 vehicles.
  • Puget Park Drive-In. Opened April 1968. Near intersection of 128th Street SE and I-5. Closed October 2009. Capacity for 723 vehicles.

    Source: Everett Public Library

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