SILVER LAKE — Drive-ins are usually a place to enjoy a movie.
But these times aren’t normal and innovation is the word of the day.
That’s why at 11 school districts so far have reached out the Charcoal Corral and Silver Lake Twin Drive-in for something entirely different. The popular entertainment venue may be just the place for graduation ceremonies in the COVID-19 era.
“When I was approached to do the graduations, having two kids graduate approximately 10 years ago, and realizing what they would have missed and all the seniors this year are missing, such as the prom, the graduations, the senior trips, sports, it was a no-brainer,” said owner Rick Stefanon on Monday. “It was something we wanted to be able to do without even having to think twice about it.”
In the absence of a traditional school auditorium, the Charcoal Corral and Silver Lake Drive-In offered some advantages for school districts looking to stage a graduation.
Planning has the graduates and their families attending in vehicles, which will be parked about 15 feet apart in the drive-in’s spaces, Stefanon said. They can listen to the ceremony on the location’s speakers or their radios.
Small groups of students may cross a stage in front of the drive-in’s screen, he said.
The drive-in’s snack bar would be closed, although the Charcoal Corral would be open for takeout and closely monitored, to ensure social distancing requirements.
Ceremonies would take 60 to 80 minutes.
“We felt fortunate we had the facilities where everybody could enjoy the experience in the comfort and safety of their own car,” Stefanon said.
The districts involved are still confirming their involvement and a complete list will be released once their plans and scheduling are finalized.
The location has also been hosting Sunday drive-in church services, which are conducted in a similar fashion. The Charcoal Corral is offering takeout meals on weekends but the drive-in itself remains closed for the time being, since it’s considered a nonessential business and the state remains on “pause.”
Stefanon said hosting graduation ceremonies will be different and unique. Did he ever expect the popular venue would be hosting graduations?
“Not in a million years,” he said. “Honestly this is unprecedented. This is a time when you have to get creative to kind of make things work and be safe at the same time.”