The organizers of a free drive-in movie in downtown Damariscotta will hang a 24-foot screen on the back of the Newcastle Realty building. The first movie will play at 8 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 20. (Evan Houk photo)

The Damariscotta Region Chamber of Commerce, Lincoln Theater, and Tidewater Telecom will host a free drive-in movie in Damariscotta’s municipal parking lot at 8 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 20 — with more to come if the experiment proves successful.

The Damariscotta Board of Selectmen approved a plan to block off 50-60 parking spaces for the event at its regular meeting Wednesday, Aug. 5. The selectmen also approved a second event for September, which will depend on attendance at the first event.

John Roberts, president of the Damariscotta Region Chamber of Commerce, said that if the “dry run” goes well, the chamber hopes to have showings twice a month.

Roberts said the chamber wants to bring some joy to residents during the coronavirus pandemic and bring business to downtown restaurants.

“Right now, we’re just trying to find little ways to bring more business to the downtown area,” Roberts said.

The plan the chamber submitted to the selectmen encourages downtown eateries to set up a table of “to-go picnic items” or offer takeout dinner specials for the night of the movie.

“We would encourage families to come eat early at the picnic tables by the waterfront, in local restaurants, or in their car,” the plan says.

The pop-up theater will show “Back to the Future” on Aug. 20 using a 24-foot screen that will be hung on the back side of Newcastle Realty. There will be 50-60 parking spaces blocked off between Stars Fine Jewelry and the Colby & Gale Inc. service station.

The audio will be transmitted by FM radio, so viewers can have the sound piped right into their vehicles.

Randal Manning, vice president for engineering and operations for Tidewater Telecom Inc., was also present at the meeting. Manning and Tidewater are donating the use of the equipment for the drive-in movies.

Two portable toilets will be set up on the Colby & Gale property for the event.

“Drive-in movie theaters have the advantages of in-person viewing while staying in the comfort, privacy, and safety of your own vehicle. Social distancing is built-in, as cars are often parked six or more feet away from each other, and proper COVID-19 protocols make it easier to have fun yet stay safe,” the chamber’s plan says.

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