Hi-Lite 30 Drive-In’s Fate in City of Aurora’s Hands
AURORA, IL — The popular Hi-Lite 30 Drive-In, which first opened in 1947, remains “Closed For the Season”, when it has usually already opened by now. Owned by Parkside Inc. until recently, the drive-in property was sold to Bigelow Homes which is developing the property that surrounds the Hi-Lite, according to a story in today’s Aurora Beacon-News. Bigelow deeded the drive-in property to the city of Aurora, which now will be deciding the drive-in’s future.
Nova Cinemas has leased and operated the theater since 1997 and is interested in obtaining a ten-year contact to continue operating the Hi-Lite from the city. Ryan Coltmeyer, Nova’s director of operations, says Nova would like to regrade the parking lot, build a new fence around the theater, and restore a long-unused adjacent indoor theater for live entertainment and concerts. The improvements would be at no cost to the taxpayer, said Coltmeyer. “In its current format, the theater is a profitable business. It is revenue for the city.”
Not only is Nova Cinemas waiting for a decision, but so are fans of the drive-in, one of only a few in Illinois, and only a couple left in the Chicago suburbs (the other being the Cascade Drive-In in West Chicago). Rose Fromm of Channahon said, “Sure we can see the movies in some big theater, with controlled temperatures and stadium seating, but it just isn’t the same. It will be a sad day if we lose this piece of Americana.”