On April 9, The Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department will host its “Movies by Moonlight” drive-in with free admission. (Courtesy/ACC Leisure Services)

On April 9, The Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department will host its “Movies by Moonlight” drive-in with free admission.

The movie shown will be “Angels in the Outfield,” to commemorate the major league baseball season. The film is directed by William Dear and stars Danny Glover, Brenda Flicker and Tony Danza. It centers on a boy named Roger, who prays that the California Angels baseball team will win the pennant so that his father will decide to stay with him. And fortunately for Roger, actual angels overhear his prayer, and they decide to help make it happen.

Tickets are currently available on the ACC Leisure Services website. The drive-in will be held at Southeast Clarke Park, along the Lexington Road Side.

“Movies by Moonlight” is still a fairly recent addition to Athens. According to Cathy Padgett, a community relations specialist at the ACC Leisure Services Department, the event began in late 2019. It was initially meant to be a picnic-style event, but it was adjusted into a drive-in event due to the pandemic. Despite the necessary changes, this drive-in has still received a good reception, having sold out several times since its debut.

“It was just so enthusiastically received, and it continues to be, because people get out of their homes and know that they’re having fun,”Padgett said.

Padgett stated that she frequently works these events in-person as the person who checks arrivals in and informs them about how the event functions.

“It feels wonderful,” Padgett said. “To be able to put on an event where people can gather safely in their cars and bring back this nostalgic feel of the drive-in movie back to Athens is a great feeling”.

Stephen Verner is another key contributor to these drive-ins. He is the technical director at the Morton Theatre, and he is responsible for making sure the event has a functioning screen, projector and speakers to play the film. This is an effort that he has found pride in doing.

“It’s an absolute joy to be able do these events for the community, you know, and not charge them for it,” Verner said. “We don’t slack. We’ve got state of the art equipment, great locations, and to be able to come out and experience these things for free is an incredible thing.”

Verner and Padgett both voiced hopes that the pandemic will reach its resolution soon so that the event could be more like it was initially intended — on the grass, with patrons free to interact with one another. Verner also said that he hopes there will be a crew dedicated to these community outreach events after the pandemic, and that these outdoor movie events will continue when things return to normal.

“As things get back to normal, we’ll all get to assume more of our regular duties and we’ll begin to carry more on our plate. What I don’t want to see happen is [the drive-ins] fade away and become an afterthought,” Verner said. “I want to continue to be an important part of building this community in Athens.”

The event requires one ticket per vehicle, and only 100 vehicles will be allowed into the event. Social distancing guidelines will be implemented. Check in will begin at 7:30 p.m., and cars will need to be in the park by 8:15 p.m.. The move will then begin at 8:30 p.m..

In the event of rain, the drive-in will be rescheduled to Friday, April 16.