Thursday, June 27, 2013


Remember these little guys? They used to parade across the giant screen at the drive-in to lure patrons out of their cars and over to the snack bar during Intermission.

(Sometimes they sang that haunting refrain, "Go on out to the lobby..." but that was mostly in indoor theatres.)

Santa Cruz musician Michael Gaither remembers these dancing cartoon snacks. They feature prominently in the new video for his song, "Starlight Drive-In Saturday Night," the title track of his new CD. 

The song is a pleasant folk-pop ode to the drive-in experience, a vital slice of Americana Gaither fears is fast going the way of the Dodo—like real milkshakes and vinyl records.

To pay homage to those thrilling days of yesteryear, Gaither and his videographer, Jeff, of RabbitHat Productions, have put together a fresh and fun video celebration of Drive-In Nation. The "Starlite" video is not only full of nostalgia-inducing dancing cartoon food and drinks, it also cites plenty of the movie fodder that made drive-ins so much fun, from Godzilla to Plan 9 From Outer Space, from AIP biker movies to Frankie and Annette.

And don't miss the 10-second countdown (until the show begins) at the end of the video!

A lifelong patron of the old Starlite Drive-In in Watsonville, Gaither was happy to find out how many other drive-ins by that name exist (or used to exist) around the country; many of their cool, '50s-atomic marquees are featured in the video.

The Watsonville drive-in is long gone, but the story has a happy ending: in its place now stands the Starlight Elementary School. Read Gaither's blog about the pilgrimage he made to the school to take pics and sing for the kids.

Watch the video here, and prepare to start humming along!


  1. That was fun! The drive in was a big part of my family's entertainment in the 50's. We loaded up the picnic basket with homemade burgers still warm in foil and lots of other goodies. Sweet memories...

  2. remember backing in the exit so we didn't have to pay!