- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 16, 2017

GREGORY, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota’s oldest drive-in movie theater will install a new digital projector to replace equipment that has been in place since the theater was built in 1947.

The Hilltop Drive-In Theatre in Gregory will install a $45,000 projector this summer as part of a project that’s being funded largely funded through donations from movie-goers, The Daily Republic (http://bit.ly/2qMYS8D ) reported.

“We had no choice, we had to replace it if we wanted to stay open, as our other equipment got completely outdated,” said drive-in owner Cecil Harsin.

The project has raised about $20,000 and will continue fundraising through the summer, The Daily Republic reported.

The projector will allow the drive-in to show films in higher resolution, better clarity and brighter pictures. Harsin said the new projector will help the theater stay open for several years as long as interest remains high. Harsin said between 40 and 50 people attend shows each night the theater is open, and he hopes the new projector will attract more movie-goers.

The theater only shows movies that are less than two weeks old, Harsin said.

“I think the outdoor theater is kind of a nostalgic thing, people want to be outside, under the stars,” Harsin said. “It’s been open each day since 1947, so we sure plan on keeping that going as long as we can.”

Harsin started working at the theater in 1945 in a part-time job running the projector. He bought the theater in 1989, when the previous owners threatened to close it.

Hilltop Drive-In Theatre is one of about six drive-in theaters in South Dakota.

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Information from: The Daily Republic, http://www.mitchellrepublic.com

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This story has been corrected to show the projector costs $45,000, not $71,000.

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Information from: The Daily Republic, http://www.mitchellrepublic.com

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