Before The Drive-in’s There Were The Air Domes!

Feb 2015
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They’re all gone now. The Do. The Don. The Beach. And the Moonlight. For those of us who grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, those names conjure up memories of our Drivein theaters. How can you forget going to the submarine races or the passion pit? Remember the little green citronella coil? You’d light one up to ward off those pesky summer mosquitos and then choke to death on the smoke! Remember the cutesy intermission music and the cartoonish hotdogs and popcorn boxes that danced across the screen, tempting you to visit the refreshment counter? What about those chunky gray speakers, with dubious sound quality? Remember Fivedollar-a-carload-night, the car’s trunk usually full to the brim with additional teenagers?

Most, if not all, of the Coastal Drive-ins were gone by the late ‘70s, victims of changing tastes and times and the elements. Pass Christian’s Moonlight Drive-in, located on Hwy 90 where Walmart is now located, was destroyed in 1969 by Hurricane Camille. In a bit of irony, Gone With The Wind was its upcoming attraction. But before Drive-in’s dotted the landscape, another form of entertainment tempted Coastal residents — the Air Dome. An April 3, 1909, Daily Herald article stated, “During all of last summer, a form of amusement enterprise known as the Air Dome became very popular in the cities, large and small, in the North and some parts of the South. Of course, an Air Dome means an outdoor theater, a theater the dome of which is the star-studded sky.”

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