October 18, 2021

'No such thing as too early' for those wanting spot at McHenry Outdoor Theater

Owner says theater reached capacity before noon Friday

After Friday's opening of the McHenry Outdoor Theater, owner Scott Dehn posted an update on Facebook for those wanting to attend Saturday: including that there is no such thing as arriving "too early."

"Due to the sheer amount of traffic backed up down Chapel Hill Rd all the way past Route 120 as well as Lincoln Rd yesterday, the police asked us to open immediately to reduce the traffic congestion," Dehn wrote.

According to his post, there were cars waiting to get into the theater by 11 a.m. Friday, when the theater officially opened for the season.

"We had to open EXCESSIVELY early yesterday and sold out our allowed capacity of 350 vehicles VERY early," Dehn wrote. "I have no good time to suggest for you to arrive, but I do expect similar crowds tonight. The best that I can offer is that there is no such thing as arriving 'too early.'"

Dehn said the theater will only be selling popcorn, refreshments and a variety of candy from its food cart for the time being.

"I was not happy with the quality of our hot food items [hot dogs, burgers and jumbo pretzels] by the time our customers purchased them," he explained on Facebook. "I need to figure out a way to make that work better as I refuse to sell you an inferior product. Until I have a system in place in which the food we grill is as good coming off the grill as it is when you purchase it, I just cannot sell those items at this time."

People are allowed to bring their own food, although concession sales are what really fund the theater, Dehn wrote.

"I do ask that you please consider even purchasing just one popcorn from us, however," Dehn wrote. "Those purchases help us out a great deal here and mean more than I can even emphasize."

Dehn, however, asked people not to order pizzas or use delivery apps such as DoorDash while at the theater, as it causes confusion at the entrances and exits and violates the theater's "stay-in-vehicle" rule as they walk to get their food.

"We really have to abide by these rules if we are to remain open for you," Dehn said. "If there is a particular food item you would like, please just bring it with you."

Dehn reminded those wanting to come to the theater to bring their face masks, and use them if they absolutely have to be outside their vehicles.

"The preceding will help all of us better enjoy our evening," Dehn wrote. "I look forward to another great night and appreciate everyone's understanding as we adapt and modify on the fly here during these unusual times."