UNICOI — Restoration is underway on the town of Unicoi’s Clinchfield Railroad caboose which will be front and center Saturday night in the first run of a new town-hosted entertainment event.
A free “Drive-In Movie At The Caboose” will be held Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Unicoi Tourist Information and Visitors Center at 106 Unicoi Village Place.
The film will be projected on a screen mounted to the side of the caboose facing Mountain Harvest Kitchen where guests will park to view the movie.
Sound will be provided on FM radio and concessions will be available for purchase at the adjacent farmers market pavilion.
“We’ve never tried a drive-in movie before. But COVID has changed a lot of things this year and we’re just happy we’ve found a way to give the community something to do that’s relatively low risk,” Unicoi Communications and Programs Director Ashley Shelton said.
While the town’s contract with the filmmaker prevents any print disclosure of the movie’s title, Shelton encouraged those interested in attending to look for the name of the film and a map of Saturday night’s drive-in style parking configuration at the town’s website, UnicoiTN.net, and the town of Unicoi page on Facebook, facebook.com/townofunicoitn.
“Without letting the genie of the bottle,” Shelton said the film is a family-friendly classic from Disney.
Concession sales will begin at 7 p.m. and the menu will include pizza at $1 per slice or $6 for a whole pie.
The movie is scheduled to start at dark.
To mitigate the risk of COVID-19 exposure, guests will be asked to remain in their cars except during trips to the restroom or concession stand. Masks will be required outside of vehicles and guests will be asked to practice social distancing, including sending only one person per car to the concession stand at a time.
Food-handling precautions will also be observed, including a minimal number of workers and the use of masks and gloves.
Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch praised the event’s combined use of the newly completed Buffalo Pavilion, the kitchen parking area and visitors’ center restrooms for its multi-functional utilization of the town’s Unicoi Village Place complex.
Renovation of the caboose began last week and is expected to be completed in a few weeks.
Rocky Hollifield and workers from his Craggy Mountain Line railroad in Woodfin, N.C., helped move and set the caboose on rails at the visitors center earlier this year and are now sanding its exterior.
Hollifield said he expects to have the caboose primed, painted and ready for placement of the car’s original decals and lettering by the end of September.