Big Bear Drive-In
3233 Northeast Totten Road,
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The Big Bear Drive-In was the typical American drive-in theatre icon on State Route 305, between Poulsbo and Suquamish near the Agate Pass Bride. It was built and operated by the Lilquist family of Poulsbo, who also operated the Almo Theatre indoor in downtown Poulsbro, which is now in retail use. The Big Bear Drive-In opened May 26, 1955 with “Chief Crazy Horse”, “Bear Country” & “Killers of the Swamp”. In 1981 it was showing adult movies to draw larger crowds. They had G to X rated movies that year, then closed their gates in 1988.
The owners of the Rodeo Drive-In then with an agreement, opened for one last time, in 1994, under the operation of the Rodeo Drive-In’s owner, until a gentlemans agreement was made and the Fred Hill Concrete and Gravel Company encroached and expanded into the drive-in’s entrance and back half of the lot, finally taking over all of the property making concrete and cement.
The unique sign that they had at the Big Bear Drive-In were the Three Bears, from the Goldilocks story. Papa, Mama, Baby Bear all up on the sign, with animated neon legs walking towards the entrance. It was surrounded by tall fir trees, and on occation, you sometimes did see a live black bear walking thru the lot, or raccoons. But it was a fun place to go on a hot night, as the surrounding woods acted as air conditioning, so it was cool there, even on the hottest of summer nights.
It was finally demolished in 1997, and from what I’ve been able to find out, the sign ended up in a Seattle storage lot, where it possibly still sits today. But if you drive thru there today, you would never know that there was even a drive-in, except for the casino that overpowers you when you’re in that area. The Big Bear Drive-In will always be in our hearts, for those of us who had that experience of being there.
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