Azusa Foothill Drive-in Theater Marquee Shines Brightly Again

by Shannon Linton '07

"Let's start the countdown." Voices whooped and cheered in the dark. "Ten, nine, eight . . ." Smiles of anticipation broke out on the faces of many in the crowd. "Five, four, three, two, one!" Lights flooded the lawn. Looks of sheer delight could be seen on young and old alike. The university's Azusa Foothill Drive-in Theater marquee flashed brightly once again.

On Monday, October 8, more than 300 members of the APU and Azusa community dedicated the newly renovated marquee in a lighting ceremony that involved classic cars, music, and a trip back in time.

Azusa Mayor Joe Rocha reminisced about his younger years when he would come to the drive-in every Friday night. "When I saw the marquee lit up, for just a moment I was 16 again," said Rocha.

Others shared similar fond memories of the theater. Mona Rubio, honored guest and former employee at the Foothill Drive-in Theater, said the theater offered families a time to be together. "It makes me so happy to see it lit up again," said Rubio. "It helps preserve the history behind this place, the good times."

David Peck, executive director of university relations, welcomed guests at the start of the ceremony. Attendees faced the restored marquee in the dark, eagerly awaiting its lighting.

Thomas Andrews, Ph.D., professor of history, emphasized the importance of the marquee to local history. "Local history is history with more of ourselves in it. It is more immediate, personal, and compelling," he said. "We celebrate and pay tribute to this marquee."

APU purchased the drive-in theater property, which includes the sign, in 2001, and is now known as the West Campus Annex. The $50,000 in marquee renovations emerged as part of an agreement between APU and the city of Azusa. APU worked closely with R&R Signs of Glendora to determine what needed to be done on the interior of the sign and the sum of the necessary repairs. The restoration process, which took two years to complete, included repainting, bringing circuitry up to code, and replacing aged material.

With renovations complete, the university has resumed posting announcements in English and Spanish to inform APU and the surrounding community of significant university dates and events.

Community members emphasized the significance of the marquee as a representation of past generations. "This sign shows us that we can't forget about our past," said Rocha. "This needs to be here for future generations to see."

For others, the marquee represents the unity of the APU and Azusa communities. "The Azusa Foothill Drive-in Marquee is a tangible expression of the history APU shares with the city of Azusa," said senior business administration major and Associated Student Body President Phil Brazell. "Coming together behind this sign really shows that we are one community.

Ginny Dadaian, director of community relations, said many people have responded positively to the restoration of the marquee. "I have had so many wonderful comments about the restoration from the residents, students, faculty, staff and even people who don't live in Azusa!" said Dadaian. "I knew that we had a success when we were concluding the ceremony to light the marquee and a neighbor who lives nearby came up to me and said, 'Don't worry I am going to be watching this piece of history; it's ours.'"

Now, each time residents of Azusa and surrounding communities pass the intersection at Foothill Boulevard and Alosta Avenue, they can experience history firsthand in the form of a brightly-lit marquee.