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Hundreds of cars line up at the chili cook-off site to view a drive-in Halloween movie last weekend, sponsored by the City of Malibu and Malibu Film Society.

Because of the novel coronavirus, most of the usual ways of celebrating Halloween in Malibu were canceled this year—no school events, no parties and no door-to-door trick-or-treating—and the usual community block parties at Malibu West and The Colony were canceled. So, what was a ghoul to do on this night of the rare blue moon?  

It turns out that ghosts, goblins, monsters, superheroes and characters of all kinds turned up at two sold-out drive-in movie events sponsored by the City of Malibu and the Malibu Film Society last weekend. People of all ages arrived in their vehicles on both nights to enjoy the fun—from loads of kids with their parents, to groups of college students, to elderly couples.

Friday night the animated Tim Burton film “The Nightmare Before Christmas” was screened, while Saturday featured the original “Ghostbusters”—both shown on a 40-foot screen with sound broadcast on an FM-radio channel. A total of 500 vehicles attended the shows—250 each night. 

Malibu Film Society board member and volunteer John Johannessen said there was one indication moviegoers had a great time. As he was helping to direct traffic before and after the movies, many of the moviegoers rolled down their car windows as they went by and yelled to him: “Thank you!” “It was great!” “Let’s do it again!”

“We thought it was great—we both had a great time, and it was great to see there was a full house. Now that we know we’ll get good turnouts, we know we can at least break even on these events,” another board member and volunteer, Don Tannenbaum, said.  Tannenbaum and his wife attended the screening as spectators. “Now that we’ve done a total of three drive-ins at this location, hopefully the city is convinced it’s a safe environment that doesn’t bother the neighbors and Malibu residents get the benefit.”

LA County has come out with a set of COVID-19 related rules for pop-up drive-in events like this one, and they were followed to the letter—no tailgating parties or gathering outside of vehicles; all volunteers and workers wore masks; no ticket sales at the gate; and there were enough portable restrooms and hand-washing stations for a small army. Luckily, most people brought flashlights to get to the restroom, because it was a ‘dark skies’ event with no outside lighting other than the movie screen and the full moon.

Making the movies even more community-friendly, ticket holders were invited to preorder boxed dinners for pickup on their way to the show each night from participating local restaurants: Broad Street Oyster Company, D’Amore’s Pizza, Duke’s Malibu, Kristy’s Village Café and Sparrow Café. In addition, Sweet Bu Candy Co. offered a special selection of Halloween treats.  

Malibu Pacific Church also offered a number of free first-come, first-served “ghost traps” filled with popcorn, candy and treats from local businesses for pick-up before the showing of “Ghostbusters.” 

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