Wind storm takes down iconic Spud Drive-In screen
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DRIGGS — As the winds topped 55 mph last night, the force of the storm brought down the iconic Spud Drive-In screen.
Tuesday morning, as managers Katie and Jedd Mumm surveyed the wrecked wood and metal that lay flat along Idaho Highway 33 in Driggs, Katie said, “We will rebuild. For sure, we will be rebuilding.”
The Mumms are not sure of the exact time the screen fell last night, but their son said he had heard a loud boom around 8:30 p.m. Monday. Katie said the wind was roaring from the Big Hole Mountains toward the Tetons, hitting the front of their home that sits on the Spud property. Around 10 p.m. she asked Jedd to check on the chimney outside.
Jedd said he went outside to look at the chimney when he looked west toward the movie screen and could see the stars — a scene normally blocked by the 60-foot tall structure.
“There was a big empty place where the screen usually was. That’s when we knew,” Katie said.
The structure that holds the screen fell eastward with the wooden beams breaking from the cement blocks, cracking and splintering off. The screen now lays flat on the grass with the new marquee broken into two pieces.
The Spud Drive-In Theater is 70 years old and listed on the U.S National Register of Historic Places. Just two miles south of the city of Driggs, “the Spud” has been an important local hang out for decades and a popular stop for tourists taking pictures in front of the giant potato on the back of the 1946 Chevrolet.
The Spud screen still stood with the original wood, fortified through the years with metal sheets. The screen was the original screen, said Katie. The business is insured and the Mumms along with owner Lenny Zaban said they will rebuild using the same colors, Katie said. They will likely need to replace the screen.
Katie said that the drive-in was slated to reopen after the off-season in May — earlier than normal due to the warmer spring weather this year.
“It’s the off-season now, so we will be OK,” Katie said regarding supporting her family of six, including their four children. “The community outreach has already been phenomenal. We knew it would be, this community is really great that way.”
As for how folks can support them right now, she asked for a little time as they assess the damage and talk to insurance people.
“I feel like applauding it,” Katie said looking at the fallen structure. “I feel strongly about things like that, feeling thankful for the ways that this (structure) has served us. It’s ok to be done. I feel gratitude for that and we will move forward in the ways that we need to.”
By 9 a.m. people were stopping to assess the damage and take photos at the drive-in while Fall River Electric was shutting off the power.
Del Fullmer lives just behind the drive-in and has been coming to the movie theater for 62 years he said. “This was bound to happen,” Fullmer said picking up pieces of splintered wood from the structure. “Last night’s wind was horrible. It was gusty and swirling.”