Flowers are sprouting, the days are getting longer, and robins are chirping. These are a few of the sure signs of springtime returning in Eastern Iowa. And of course, then comes the announcement we've all been waiting for.

The arrival of the season-opening weekend of our favorite area drive-in movie theater, the Highway 61 Drive In near Maquoketa.

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The Highway 61 Drive In Facebook page has revealed May 7 and May 8 will be this year's season-opening weekend. The movies that will be shown are still unannounced. In fact, their posting is having some fun, making a quiz out of which movies they might be showing on the big screen.

No matter what age you are, there is something quite magical about a drive-in theater experience.

Many of us remember driving past drive-in movies featuring neon lights advertising "big screens," "full concession stands," and "playgrounds for the kids."

My first drive-in experience happened when I was a teenager with my own driver's license and a borrowed car from my brother. The movie was "The  Exorcist." We could hear screams coming from the cars all around us!

Last year the lockdown due to the Covid-19 virus shut down many businesses, but somehow the Highway 61 Drive In survived. It's one of those things we are thankful for as we come full circle this spring, knowing that there is hope on the horizon.

So mark your calendars and set a date for the return of double-features, popcorn and sodas, outdoor movies, and family fun May 7 and 8 at the Highway 61 Drive In.

LOOK: Stunning vintage photos capture the beauty of America's national parks

Today these parks are located throughout the country in 25 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The land encompassing them was either purchased or donated, though much of it had been inhabited by native people for thousands of years before the founding of the United States. These areas are protected and revered as educational resources about the natural world, and as spaces for exploration.

Keep scrolling for 50 vintage photos that show the beauty of America's national parks.

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