By MARINA WATERS
Movies on Main has long been a Jonesborough summer staple. And now, with a giant screen on the back of the courthouse and a parking lot full of cars, the town tradition has a new drive-in look with that same movie magic feel that even the coronavirus couldn’t stop.
“We looked into ways we could make it happen, if it was possible, how we could do this,” Town Special Events Coordinator Melinda Copp said. “We were able to pull some things together and make it happen.”
After the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen discussed ways to continue the event, eventually settling on the drive-in format, the event centered around reservations for about 80 cars in the courthouse parking lot each Friday night. Then a couple of tweaks were made to the plan.
During the first Friday night showing, the free reservations filled up by Wednesday, but only about 27 cars showed up, Copp said. That’s when the town decided to add a $10 fee to the reservations as an incentive that could also help boost downtown businesses.
“After seeing how it worked and that not all the people came back and took the space they had made a reservation for, we thought we wanted to revisit this and see how we could make it work better,” Copp said. “We thought ‘If we could charge $10 and then give that back to them to spend on the downtown businesses, it’s kind of a win win for everybody.’ Then that $10 is invested in our downtown community.”
To do so, the town opted to give Jonesborough Area Merchants & Service Association which serve as gift certificates that can be used in downtown shops and restaurants in return for the $10 spent on the reservation.
“A lot of those people are eating downtown and getting ice cream and shopping,” Copp said. “I think it’s not only a fun community event, but it’s providing some foot traffic as well.”
Apart from helping downtown merchants and providing a different movie from “The Goonies” to “Mrs. Doubtfire” each week, Copp said the town mostly was aiming to keep to the tradition of playing a family friendly movie on the big screen in Tennessee’s oldest town as it has done many summers before.
“Jonesborough is known for events and especially family events,” Copp said. “We are just really trying to find something that can keep our community engaged and also do it in a safe manner.
“I think it’s important just to be able to offer something because people are just itching for something to do. I think it was a great way just to keep something going and to offer a twist on it, but also accommodate more people.”
Movies on Main will continue each Friday until the final showing on Friday, July 31.
To reserve a spot at the next Movies on Main, go to https://jonesborough.com/special_event/movies-on-main/. To see the full list of movies, go to https://www.facebook.com/events/285329942596829/.