August 5, 2020
It’s an idea born out of necessity, a stop-gap until we can get back to “normal.” But given today’s landscape, it’s also a rare opportunity to see live music from a national act.
The “Drive-In Theater Tour” features contemporary Christian favorites Casting Crowns. And it’s coming to the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum parking lot on Thursday, Aug. 13.
When the members of Casting Crowns were approached by Awakening Events, the promoter of the tour, the band quickly embraced the idea as a way to continue their ministry during an uncertain time.
In a recent interview with Whatzup, drummer Brian Scoggin said that, like everybody else, the band was caught off guard when the pandemic hit and really didn’t know how to keep doing the high-powered worship ministry they feel called to do.
Then they got the call from Awakening president Dan Fife a few weeks into the quarantine period.
“Dan figured out a way to do this,” Scoggin said. “He approached us about it and it was like our prayers were answered, with no guarantees and not knowing what it was going to look like. Of course, we said yes. It’s just what you do when you follow God. It’s faith.”
Figuring out Logistics
The staff of the Memorial Coliseum are used to having thousands of people inside their building, not outside. So, a number of logistics needed to be ironed out in order for the event to happen.
An ever-changing Covid-19 protocol that stresses social distancing and cleanliness was the first priority along with the health and safety of audience members. Executive Vice President & General Manager Randy Brown told Whatzup that a lot of thought has been given to what will happen that night and how his staff will handle each situation.
To start, they will help ensure social distancing with a limit of six people per car.
He also asked people to get tickets ahead of time to help things run a bit more smoothly at the gate. However, there will be a box office available at each entrance for those who might have to wait until the last minute before deciding whether they can attend the show.
The parking lot will open at 6 p.m. and show tickets will be scanned at the parking booths. Cars will then be guided into the parking lot and led to specific spaces that will be marked to allow for social distancing on all sides.
Brown anticipates masks will be required to be worn as per the mandate set forth by Gov. Eric Holcomb. Brown encourages everyone to bring along some hand sanitizer as an added precaution.
“We will be doing our best to do everything possible to honor the guidelines set out by the governor,” Brown said.
The show will go on rain or shine. Guests can bring lawn chairs but will be asked to stay inside their own parking spaces as much as possible. Activities such as playing ball or throwing a Frisbee are prohibited.
Restrooms will be available inside the conference center in order to maintain an environment that can be cleaned and disinfected. Several food trucks have also been invited to participate.
Some of the work of staging the show will be shared by Awakening as the tour is traveling with its own stages, video screens, sound, and lights. In case there was any doubt, this is a full legitimate show.
Though excited for the new experience, Scoggin is realistic about the economics of the show.
“Obviously you’re not going to draw the amount of crowd you’re used to drawing and there’s not a ton of revenue in this type of touring,” he said. “Touring is kind of how bands exist now because it’s hard to sell your music these days with all of the streaming. But we’re going to be faithful to the message and to the God that gives us the message.”
Casting Crowns are no strangers to the Summit City; they have played in and around Fort Wayne many times.
Scoggin said the band has a lot of friends here and each trip to the city usually includes a stop at Sweetwater.
“Every musician has a connection with Sweetwater,” he said.
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