BY MARTA HEPLER DRAHOS
— TRAVERSE CITY — It’s official: The Cherry Bowl Drive-In is one of five winners of Honda’s Project Drive In voting contest.
The popular Honor drive-in will receive a high-tech digital projector valued at $80,000 that will enable it to continue showing first-run movies.
Cherry Bowl owner Laura Clark said she was stunned when a team from American Honda came to deliver the news in person before noon today.
“It was just incredible. I started to cry and said thank you,” said Clark, who has operated the theater herself since her husband, Harry Clark, died in December 2012 from injuries sustained in a tree-cutting accident. “I think we’ve had such a following because of his injury. It’s been such an outpouring of love.”
Honda launched the project in August to help save some of America’s remaining drive-ins. With the end of 35-millimeter film distribution coming later this year, many are in jeopardy of closing because they can’t make the costly switch to digital projection.
More than 2 million online votes poured in for 121 drive-ins, said Laura Fini of American Honda Public Relations. The Cherry Bowl was one of the top five national vote getters.
Fini said the winners were being announced one a day, starting Wednesday with a theater in Maine.
Clark said her husband would have been “ecstatic.”
“He was always the one to follow the technology,” she said. “I believe he put this right in my lap.”
The Cherry Bowl will celebrate its win with a free community party starting at 6 p.m. today. It will feature hot dogs, ice cream and cake, plus a screening of the movie "Zookeeper" at dark.