Bob Boyle wins tourism award after moments of 'pure joy' at the drive-in

·2 min read

He enabled graduates to celebrate with family. He gave the LBGT community a place to dance.

He brought laughter and music with ceilidhs and a comedy festival.

And, of course, as owner of the Brackley Drive-in Theatre, he made it possible for couples to cuddle in the car and watch movies on the big screen.

Despite a 70 per cent drop in business due to COVID-19, Bob Boyle saw a lot of positives in 2020.

It really means more, I think, to get this award in 2020 for the drive-in and our staff to be able to adapt with all the challenges that we faced this season with COVID-19. — Bob Boyle

"I was lucky enough to be able to witness pure joy on multiple occasions," he said.

"I guess you would say COVID-19 gave us the opportunity to experiment and try new things and that's always a good thing because we know a lot of good things came out of it."

For those efforts, Boyle was presented with the Tourism Trailblazer Award by the Tourism Industry Association of Prince Edward Island.

Sue Baillie
Sue Baillie

"It really means more, I think, to get this award in 2020 for the drive-in and our staff to be able to adapt with all the challenges that we faced this season with COVID-19," he said.

The drive-in was able to open May 22 with about 170 vehicles, down from about 300. There were fewer guests at the hotel attached to the drive-in, and the first new movie from Hollywood didn't come out until late August.

But there were still plenty of memories made. Colonel Gray High School held its graduation ceremony there at the end of June.

"Just the level of pure joy with the students being able to see each other again."

Travis Kingdon/CBC
Travis Kingdon/CBC

During the P.E.I. Pride Festival, the drive-in hosted Pride After Dark, a dance party modified for COVID-19 restrictions.

"It didn't dawn on me at the moment until someone mentioned it to me and they said, 'You know, this is really the only place we can dance on P.E.I.' And they were able to dance within their car bubble in front of the parking spot. So it was just moment after moment there that I will always remember the amount of being able to see pure joy."

Boyle said some events, like the Saturday afternoon ceilidhs, might continue into the future. But no matter what happens, the tourism award will always be a reminder of this unusual year.

"It might have my name on the award, but it was definitely a team effort with all of our staff. Our staff rose to a whole new level."

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