Circus Drive-In finally leaving town?

Nov 9, 2020, 4:26 PM | Updated: 4:51 pm
A colorful sign that once adorned the Circus Drive-In in Anacortes disappeared years ago. (Anacortes Museum) One letter remains on the back of the screen at the Circus Drive-In in Anacortes (Richard Banel) The screen at the Circus Drive-In is remarkably intact; the theatre closed more than 30 years ago. (Richard Banel) Ghost sign remnants on a fence at the Circus Drive-In in Anacortes. (Richard Banel) Demolition appears to be imminent at Anacortes' old Circus Drive-In. (Richard Banel)

The Circus Drive-In, the ruins of which have been a fixture along State Highway 20 east of downtown Anacortes in Skagit County for decades, is apparently finally being torn down.

The theatre closed in the 1980s, and the property has served as a storage lot for RVs and boats for many years. Earlier this year, GoSkagit.com reported that the Swinomish Tribe bought the seven-acre parcel with plans to build affordable housing on the site, which is adjacent to the tribe’s didgwálič Wellness Center.

KIRO Radio reached tribal offices today, but the staff person who answered the phone was not able to confirm that the work underway – which appears to be preparation for demolition of the old drive-in – is related to the tribe’s plans.

Bret Lunsford, director of the Anacortes Museum, says he is eager to collect some tangible reminders of the theatre.

“My feelers sent out for CIRCUS artifacts have so far come to nothing,” Lunsford said in an email on Monday. “I hope something will find its way to the museum eventually under its own power.”

Speeding on Highway 20 past the old drive-in, with its remarkably intact screen, still-standing projection booth and concession stand – and, many years ago, assortment of brightly painted plywood two-dimensional clown heads – was a tradition for many travelers headed to Whidbey Island via Deception Pass, or to the San Juan Islands via the Washington State Ferry Terminal at Anacortes.

You can hear Feliks every Wednesday and Friday morning on Seattle’s Morning News and read more from him here. If you have a story idea, please email Feliks here.

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Circus Drive-In finally leaving town?