At the drive-in: Thrills, chills, popcorn, and hand sanitizer

“It was this or tennis,” said Ivonisa Tesoriero, who works in human resources at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and was celebrating her 39th birthday. A pile of empty pizza boxes sat on the ground as she chatted with family and friends.

As the sun set, masked ticketholders lined up at the snack bar to order candy and buttered popcorn, dutifully planting themselves six feet behind the person in front of them. Children horsed around. Adults sipped beverages. An older couple ate ice cream on lawn chairs as smoke from a nearby grill wafted toward them.

It felt like that first, euphoric summer night of the year. Except a note of caution hung in the air.

After two months of pandemic lockdown in New York, when the only movies to see were controlled by your remote, state officials had lifted the bans on some activities and on this night — the first night drive-ins around the state could open — locals and curious out-of-towners flocked to Warwick’s outdoor theater. At one point, staff members had to start turning people away.