Hundreds line up to buy part of the past at Cascade Drive-In sale

 
 
Updated 3/23/2019 5:48 PM
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  • Everything, including the popcorn poppers, was for sale Saturday at the Cascade Drive-In in West Chicago, which will not open this year.

      Everything, including the popcorn poppers, was for sale Saturday at the Cascade Drive-In in West Chicago, which will not open this year. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • People wandered around the concession stand Saturday hoping to take home a piece of nostalgia at the Cascade Drive-In theater in West Chicago. The business is closing after 57 years.

      People wandered around the concession stand Saturday hoping to take home a piece of nostalgia at the Cascade Drive-In theater in West Chicago. The business is closing after 57 years. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Hundreds of people stood in line Saturday for a chance to buy part of the Cascade Drive-In in West Chicago.

      Hundreds of people stood in line Saturday for a chance to buy part of the Cascade Drive-In in West Chicago. John Starks | Staff Photographer

Hundreds of people flocked to the Cascade Drive-In in West Chicago for what might be the final time Saturday afternoon to buy up branded apparel and almost everything that wasn't nailed down.

Shirts and hoodies sold out, and fans also went home with an assortment ranging from mosquito repellent coils to a pizza warmer from the drive-in, which recently announced it won't open this summer.

The sale was held in the old concession stand and the line to get in likely rivaled the crowd during a packed movie in the theater's heyday.

The event was supposed to begin at 4 p.m. but the owners opened the entrance gate to cars at around 3 p.m.

Walter Jr. and Veronica Beaudette were the first ones through; they'd arrived outside in their SUV with their dog Blue at around 1:15 p.m.

Walter Jr. said he first went to the Cascade in 1962 and is sad to see it close.

Among the things the Elgin couple bought from owner Jeff Kohlberg were a pizza warming tray, a hot dog fryer and a small bronze statue of a knight that Walter Jr. said he remembered seeing there when he was a kid.

"He said it belonged to his dad," Walter Beaudette said. "I gave him my phone number and told him he could call me if he wanted it back."

Kari Divito arrived around 2:45 p.m. and was among the first inside the concession stand. She left just after 4 p.m. with a branded hoodie, a gently used employee apron and a small box full of mosquito coils, the latter of which were being given away for free.

Kohlberg announced on social media earlier this month that the drive-in would not reopen for the "2019 season and beyond."

Owners of the land the theater leased are trying to sell the site, Kohlberg said, and that means his business will be unable to continue the "rare entertainment" of outdoor movies for customers to view from their cars.

The Cascade had operated on 28 acres at 1100 E. North Ave. since 1961 with the tagline "Movies Under the Stars." Last season, it was one of just two drive-ins in the area, surviving along with the McHenry Outdoor Theater as a vestige of yesteryear.

Kohlberg's Facebook post announcing the closure racked up more than 4,000 comments and has been shared by 9,543 people.

Lisa Brooks, a Hanover Park resident, left the line shortly after 4 p.m. once it was announced there were no more shirts or hoodies.

"We're going to miss this place," said Brooks, who used to come with her family. "I don't think I'll ever see a drive-in movie again," Brooks said.

Frankfort resident Don Dobrez was going around with a camera filming the sale for a documentary he's working on called "Three Drive-ins Outside Chicago." He said he also captured the last days of the Hi-Lite in Aurora and the Keno in Kenosha for his project.

Dobrez, who has been coming to Cascade for 30 years, said it was sad that the last time he'd be there wasn't even for a movie.

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