It appears to us that the onset of the Covid-19 in Florida has rekindled the Sunshine State’s love affair with the automobile. Everywhere you look you see drive-in restaurants and take out. Drive-in theaters are enjoying a renaissance. Heck we even see drive-in churches popping up.
The governor has closed all the restaurants and bars to inside use. So being Americans, we have retreated to our automobiles. Being in the car allows you to have the politically correct social distancing while being surrounded with all the comforts of home.
Now, sitting in our car, we can dine, be entertained and even attend a worship service.
Recently, we decided to go motoring for dinner. The nearest spot was a Sonic Drive-In Restaurant. We have tried this chain and the food certainly is acceptable. When we arrived, I pulled into the stall and pushed the red button. We ordered and in no time, a friendly carhop brought our meal out and hooked the tray on the window.
After dinner, we found Lakeland’s Silver Moon Drive-in Theater. It’s a two-screen operation, which plays mostly retro films. They rely more on the drive-in experience. They have a nice concession stand and a play area for the children. We noted than most of their films seem to be pretty acceptable across the board when it comes to entertainment.
In fact, there actually are seven drive-in operations in Florida scattered between Ocala and Fort Lauderdale.
On Sunday evening we attended a drive-in church. This was set up by country music singer Tommy Brandt in a local parking lot. Branded “Cowboy Outreach America,” Brandt usually holds his services at rodeos and other such events.
However, with Covid-19 in Florida, such events have come to a grinding halt. So he now has taken his ministry to the general public. There were about 50-60 cars the night we were there to hear his service featuring country gospel music and a stirring message.
Several other churches have started drive-in services for those who are hungry for corporate worship. And there’s at least one permanent drive-in church in Florida. That one is the Daytona Beach Drive-In Christian Church. It has been in existence for several years.
Of course there are numerous drive-thru beverage operations scattered about the state and even a few drive-thru attractions. Those mostly feature flora and fauna – such as Lion Country Safari and The Wild Drive-Thru Safari Park in Orlando or parks like the Big Cypress Preserve and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Florida and the Automobile
We all know that it was motoring and the automobile that helped to make Florida the tourist destination it now is. Historian Ken Breslauer has written a marvelous book outlining Florida Roadside Attractions Before Disney, that shows the golden age of motoring in the Sunshine State.
In fact, we took time to review it in an earlier article.
Back in the mid-20th Century, many people took “Citrus Avenue” through the Sunshine State to see much of what Florida has to offer. This “Guided Tour” film gives us a taste of what they saw.
The recent onset of Covid-19 in Florida really has created a return of sorts to motor tourism in the Sunshine State. You can have all your creature comforts while having dinner, watching a movie, picking up some snacks, enjoying the great outdoors and even worshiping The Lord.
And Happy Motoring.