It happened ever so slightly and without notice, but we were somehow trapped in Ventura, California. Maybe it was the sun and plentiful beaches or perhaps reconnecting with our longtime friend, Greta, but we showed little haste in leaving such a leisure life. It was late Tuesday afternoon and we had just finished our thrift store shopping spree. Parched from the event we found a nearby brewery with a happy hour special too good to refuse. As we enjoyed our food and beer at Anacapa Brewing Company, Nate mentioned a new movie he wanted to see. Greta commented that she had recently watched it at the local drive-in movie theater. Shane immediately responded by saying, “WE HAVE TO GO!”
Shane’s desire to go to the drive-in wasn’t based on what movie was showing; it was based on an idea he had almost a month prior while driving through Colorado. He had seen an old drive-in movie theater and thought how incredible it would be to go to a movie and buy everyone’s ticket for the movie. It didn’t take long for everyone to jump onboard and with that we were off to the drive-in to see a double feature, Vacation Movie and Ant-Man – guaranteeing another night in Ventura, CA.
We reached the West Wind Drive-In early in the evening making sure we were the first to arrive. In classic Project Wildness style our timing was nearly serendipitous as cars lined up in our rearview mirror with an empty lot straight ahead. Shane paid for the tickets and then told the attendant, “I also want to pay for everyone that comes after me.” Like many before him, the attendant looked slightly perplexed as to why someone would do such a strange thing. Shane picked up on this and explained what we were doing. After hearing the Project Wildness story he made the transition from confused to enthused and we had another person on board with our cause. Before driving into the lot Shane said, “If anyone has any questions we will be in the bright orange car.”
We barely made it out of our car before being swarmed by grateful movie goers. Some people just wanted to stop by and say thanks; others gave a quick honk and yelled out their car windows while passing by. One family asked if we wanted anything from the snack stand, but we politely declined. Multiple groups spent time asking about Project Wildness and sharing their stories as well. One couple said they just dropped their child off at college and mentioned how the last month has been filled with fee after fee and expense after expense. Getting a movie paid for may not make up for the cost of sending a child to college, but she told us it was “such a treat” to come across such a surprise.
One individual had a hard time believing what we were doing – “People just don’t do that.” Another individual said, “Oh this is like that Honda commercial!” Regardless of how each person felt or what they said one thing was clear – people were talking and sharing stories. When you give a collection of people a common experience, barriers fall and conversations begin. In an age where we barely have time to wait through previews or drive a few extra miles to a movie Project Wildness is glad to have had the nostalgic experience of going to the drive in and participating in America’s forgotten past time – talking.
Give people something to talk about. #ProjectWildness
To Brooke A… I won’t say how long ago, but there was a time when I (Shane) was a little guy taking piano lessons from a high school girl. I think enough time has passed where my school boy self won’t be embarrassed to say I had a big time crush on my piano teacher. I would like to say my 8 year old self had a crush because I already knew what an incredibly giving and kind person you are, but I’m sure it wasn’t as deep as that. Regardless, thank you for all you do to make Hawley and the world a better place. Keep smiling and keep doing good!
To Carol and John… Having driven by the Oberg Trucking business in Fort Dodge and heard the old drive-in movie stories, I always wanted to experience one. The stories you all told about going to the drive-in with grandpa and grandma or high school dates brought me to a time I had never experienced. Today the two of you shared that experience with an entire drive-in theater in California. Thanks for choosing to be a part of this; we appreciate it so much!
To Stacy B… You have followed us along on this journey. Not only have you followed, you participated. What you gave was able to put smiles on the faces of a crowd of people parked under California stars. And from what we heard firsthand, those very same people are so thankful for people like you. Thanks for your contribution!
To Wendy B… When we saw your donation come in, we couldn’t believe it. You chose to contribute to two guys tossing around a dream to explore and connect with others. Not only has your participation in this journey put smiles on our faces, but it brightened the evening for a boatload of cars at a drive-in movie. Families, friends, and dates gathered together for a movie on you. And boy, did they seem grateful. Thanks for what you’ve done for this project!