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Hilltop Drive-In needs digital projector to stay open

It’s time for Gregory’s Hilltop Drive-In to move into the digital age. There’s an effort underway to replace the outdated 35mm projector with a digital one. If that goal is accomplished before the summer of 2017, the Hilltop will continue to be one of only six drive-ins remaining in the state. If not, it will probably close.

The Hilltop Drive-In on Highway 18 between Gregory and Dallas has been one of Gregory’s landmarks since it was built in 1946. It has a 72- x 40-foot screen, has car radio and speaker sound and can accommodate more than 200 cars. It’s open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Slim (Cecil) Harsin started running the projector at the Hilltop in 1954. In the 1980’s he purchased the drive-in, and it has become a family affair that he runs with his son Louie, Louie’s wife Michelle and Slim’s wife Linda.

Reel-to-reel movies have been all but phased out by the studios that produce them. The few copies that are made are distributed after the first run digital movies have come and gone. That’s driven attendance down at the Hilltop and Harsin can’t make a profit anymore.


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