Photo by Ruth Douglas
Standing in front of one of the drive-in movie theater screens, the wedding party of Daniel and Rgie Wermager pose for photos on Saturday, June 27. Pictured from left are: Matthew Huizenga (Groom’s Younger Brother) and his guest; Brandon Huizenga (Groom’s Older Brother); Tessa Huizenga (Groom’s Youngest and Only Sister); Randi Black (Bride’s Close Friend); David Huizenga (Father of the Groom); Shirley Huizenga (Mother of the Groom); Daniel Huizenga (Groom); Cale Wermager (Bride’s Son and Groom’s Best Man); Rgie Huizenga (Wermager)-Bride; Randy Johnson (Father of the Bride); Grace Johnson(Mother of the Bride); Pastor Matthew Lim (Officiant); Kellie Lim (Pastor Matt’s Wife); Rielly Poor Bear (Melissa Pranke’s Co-Baker); Melissa Pranke (Witness and Baker); Steffie Sandlian (Witness); and in front, Sofee the Bichon Frise (“Flower Girl”).
By Brett Nachtigall
HERMOSA – After getting engaged on July 30, 2019, Rgie Wermager and her fiance Daniel Huizenga, both of Hot Springs, set their destination wedding date for June 27, 2020, with plans for the ceremony to be held on a tropical beach.
Of course, little did they know at the time of how different the world was going to be 11 months later, which forced them to change their plans numerous times, which included holding it at a number of other locations like Legion Lake and Calvary Baptist Church in Hot Springs.
But due to social-distancing requirements going on this past May at most area locales, and the pressing need to make a decision soon in order to invite guests, the couple ultimately decided on an outdoor wedding at Roy’s Black Hills Twin Drive-In near Hermosa.
“This was actually our Plan E,” Rgie said leading up to their wedding day at the drive-in theater, which did successfully take place on their original wedding date of June 27.
She said the choice to have their wedding at the theater was to allow access for all of their guests who had varying degrees of concern over COVID-19. Despite having to cancel the reception after the wedding, there were still about 85 guests who did attend the wedding, with some watching nearby in lawn chairs or standing, while others participated from a safe distance from inside their vehicles.
Guests at the luau-themed wedding were given both “pre-wedding” and “post-wedding favors” as they exited the movie-theater lot and were also photographed as part of “photo guest book,” partly as a means to avoid everyone sharing a pen to sign the traditional guest book.
Rgie said the pre-wedding favors included a personal note to their guests thanking them for coming to the “show” which also outlined the CDC-recommended guidelines for the event; a seashell program/fan; and adult and youth-sized facemasks screenprinted by All Seasons Screenprinting of Hot Springs, with the couple’s initials and wedding date.
The post-wedding favors included: Canned FOCO Roasted Coconut Juice from the Asian Grocery in Rapid City, in place of the Fresh Coconuts they were originally going to have at their Reception, catered by Red Shed Smokehouse; Lychee and Mango Fruit Jellies from the Asian Grocery in Rapid City; and, Mini-Key Lime Pies and the German Chocolate Cupcakes baked by Melissa Pranke and Rielly Poor Bear.
Despite being the first – and so far only – wedding that has been hosted at Roy’s Black Hills Twin Drive-In, the site has hosted a number of other events that have been forced to change locations due to COVID-19 precautions.
The theater, which is owned by Roy Reitenbaugh of Hot Springs and managed by his daughter Correna Reitenbaugh, has been open this summer since May 22. They are currently showing films on both of their screens beginning at dusk Friday through Monday, but due to the Hollywood studions currently not releasing any new films, the showings consist of earlier 2019 and 2020 releases along some classics. This past weekend their offerings included Ghostbusters from 1984 and Jumanji: The Next Level from December 2019.
In addition to films, Correna Reitenbaugh said they have also been hosting a weekly, non-denominational Sunday morning church service with Pastor Tim Steun with Clarion Call, which also has ties to Power 107.1 KSLT radio from Rapid City. This event began on Easter Sunday and has been taking place ever since, with between 10 and 15 cars attending each week.
On June 27, Roy’s was also part of what has been called the “world’s largest drive-in concert” when they played a Garth Brooks concert and was one of more than 300 drive-in venues across the country that showed it at the same time. Correna said there were nearly 300 vehicles that attended that event, which she said could have likely been more had there not been an issue with Ticketmaster, which incorrectly stated online that the venue was sold out. She said they actually have space for up 700 vehicles between the two screens.
Other events they have hosted include the Douglas High School graduation, a candidates forum for the Custer County Republicans, employee appreciation events, a premier event for Public Broadcasting, and an AirMed training for first responders on May 21, which included the landing of a Black Hills Life Flight helicopter inside the theater property.
While most of the aforementioned events were held at the drive-in theater due to coronavirus-related reasons, Reitenbaugh stated that they have been hosting other non-movie-related special events ever since they first opened more than eight years ago.
Now in their ninth season as the only outdoor movie-theater in the Black Hills area, the venue has been the site for numerous other things including large fundraisers, flea markets and live music festivals.
Reitenbaugh said they currently employ 15 people, including a few from Hot Springs, with most coming from the Rapid City area. Their primary source of revenue when hosting events is through the sale of concessions, which is why they do not allow outside food. They do not sell pr serve alcohol-beverages, but do allow their guests to bring it on-site for consumption.
Rates for renting the location for special events depend upon how much of the facility is required. For more information, call Correna Reitenbaugh at 507-382-0787.