Weekend Programming and Claytor Nature Center Presents: Drive-in Movie Night

Drive-in movie night at the Claytor Nature Center. Graphic by Jess Head

Cassandra Matthews ~ Assistant Editor

     The Claytor Nature Center and Weekend Programming at the University of Lynchburg are excited to host a drive-in movie night on April 17, complete with concessions and stargazing.

     Disney’s animated movie “Soul” will be playing, and the event is going to be held at the Belk Observatory at the Claytor Nature Center.

     Trish Cerulli, the outreach coordinator for the Claytor Nature Center, explained how the night will run. She said, “Students will arrive at the Southern entrance to the Claytor Nature Center off of Rte. 43, via Cloverlea Lane, and drive to the fields adjacent to the Belk Observatory. They will park oriented facing the screen, and get ready for a drive-in movie experience under the stars and dark Bedford, Va., sky. The NOMAD Coffee Co. truck will be there and available for their normal drink menu as well as other concessions like popcorn, kettle corn, candy and soda. Each student will receive a voucher for concessions at the Coffee truck. Also, students will sign up for a viewing session wave at the Belk Observatory, to be able to learn and view through various astronomical equipment and telescopes!”

     Taylor Deskins who is the graduate assistant for Student Involvement at the University of Lynchburg, and she has been working closely with Cerulli to plan the event. She said, “There will be a 65 ft. screen for people to watch the movie on and a PA speaker system for the audio. [As well as concessions at no cost to students], we will also be raffling off huge prizes! Staff, faculty, and their friends and family can go.”

     Continuing, Deskins said, “The purpose of this movie night is to give students the opportunity to get off of campus for an evening and watch a movie with friends. I recognize that it has probably been a while since many of us have been to a movie theatre, so hopefully, this event will bring back a sense of normalcy.”

     Still, she explained that there will be restrictions in place to keep participants safe. “We will require that everyone wear masks and socially distance themselves when they are outside of their cars, for example, waiting in line for food,” she said. “We will also have hand sanitizer available. When we host events on campus, we use Presence to keep track of participants and use for contact tracing. 

     Cerulli added that as well as offering a unique and fun experience for students, she also hopes that students will learn more about the Claytor Nature Center and Belk Observatory. 

     She said, “Many students only have the opportunity to come out there for a class or maybe an organization retreat, but this is a fun and educational event that explores a different aspect that the Claytor Nature Center offers.”

     Dr. Greg Eaton is the director of the Claytor Nature Center. He echoed Cerulli’s sentiments, saying, “We are interested in getting more people engaged with the Claytor Nature Center. The more they have the opportunity to come out here for whatever reason, the more likely they will be to come again, and tell their friends and family and neighbors. So we hope this movie will be a novel enough experience (not many have the opportunity to go to drive-in movies anymore) that they will want to come out for a movie.”

     Everyone who has been working hard to plan the event is eagerly anticipating it. Deskins said, “I am excited to see this whole event come together! There were a lot of moving parts involved in the planning of this event. I hope that students, faculty, and staff have a great time and get a chance to enjoy themselves.”

     To sign up, please RSVP by Wednesday at 5 p.m. using this link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSea3Sb6Ug5db9FoQoZkysuC4HCyOyH2ZpqviA9ForI2s5xtYQ/viewform

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