"It was like losing an old friend. I've been there 53 years and what followed was cars coming in every five minutes for the next week. It was like a wake that never ended; people coming in and expressing their condolences," says John Nagelschmidt, owner of the Midway Drive-In.
Fast forward one month later, and that sadness has turned into community action. Neighbors have banned together to help Nagelschmidt raise the money to rebuild.
"I'm like what can I help do? I came up with the t-shirts!" says 13-year-old Maddie Rhinehart, organized the t-shirt fundraiser.
Rhinehart has been going to the Drive-In for as long as she can remember. She asked Nagelschmidt if she, along with her girl scout troop, could sell t-shirts to raise money. Nagelschmidt agreed and in just two weeks, they've raised $25,000.
"It's amazing," says Nagelschmidt. "We had our regular patrons, but I would say half were people who hadn't been to the Drive-In in 20 years. But it was something they wanted here for their kids coming up."
The new screen will cost $100,000. With the t-shirt sales along with people just sending in donations, Nagelschmidt says he has $40,000 in the bank. He'd like to raise some more, but he says if he has to reach into his own wallet, he will.
"My kids have promised they will operate it if we can rebuild it, so I can dig into our retirement if we can close that gap down another $10,000," says Nagelschmidt. "And the way sales are doing, I think we'll do it."
Local businesses and neighbors are stepping up with many fundraisers to support the Midway. You can also buy "Save The Midway" t-shirts online. Below is a schedule of upcoming fundraisers:
Buffalo Wild Wings in Cicero, NY (5671 East Circle Drive) will hold a fundraiser with 20% of your food/bar tab donated to the Midway Rebuilding Fund if you tell your server you are a supporter of the Midway Drive In. You can go anytime from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. T-shirts will also be sold at the event.
Saturday & Sunday, August 23 & 24 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM
"Afternoon of Fun" at the Midway Drive-in with Girls Scout Troop 10101. The troop will be conducting a T-Shirt/Bracelet sale.
Donations can also be sent to:
Midway Drive In Theatre
PO Box 22
Minetto, NY 13115
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