By Kate Raddatz

LONG PRAIRIE, Minn. (WCCO) — A favorite place for WCCO viewers to watch movies under the stars needs help this week.

Three years ago, you voted the Long Drive-In in Long Prairie the best drive-in movie theater in Minnesota. Earlier this week, a storm left its giant screen in shambles.

“It basically came from behind it and pushed it all forward,” said Michelle Claseman, who owns the drive-in with her husband Daniel.

(credit: CBS)

All that’s left of the original screen is some tattered scaffolding and a few white panels. It’s where families have watched movies after sunset for over a half a century.

“It’s been watching over the yard for 60 years, so you can just imagine how it’s watched time change,” Michelle said.

Storms that came through Long Prairie Monday ripped off the screen panels and scattered them across the rows that would normally be filled with cars

(credit: CBS)

It’s a loss felt not just by the owners, but by people all over the state who have been commenting by the hundreds on pictures of the damage on Facebook.

“We were taking about why people come here — sometimes two to three hours before the gate opens — and I said they talk to one another,” Michelle said. “They put their phones away and socialize with one another.”

After being in Michelle’s family for more than three decades, they haven’t changed a thing with the 1950s interior. It ensures kids and adults get a trip back in time. It’s why rebuilding the screen will save much more than just a trip to the movies.

“We will be going up, no matter what,” Daniel said.

“What makes it worth it is talking to that one person that’s never been to a drive-in, and they’re so excited to finally be at one,” Michelle said.

The drive-in is closed until the Clasemans can possibly get the screen fixed. It’s unclear how much insurance will cover. One repair estimate was close to $200,000.

If you’d like to help the Long Drive-In rebuild, you can donate to their GoFundMe page.

Kate Raddatz