ELWOOD — When Elwood High School’s Youth Engaged in Leading People participants brainstormed their community service project for the leadership academy, they knew they wanted to throw it back to a bygone era.

“Ever since I’ve heard of YELP I immediately thought — because I knew we had to have a project — so I was like I really want a drive-in movie theater,” said Alivia Knoerzer.

Knoerzer and her peers, Kaydee Diefenbaugh and Matteya Gutierrez, brainstormed at their monthly meetings for YELP and collaborated to organize Elwood Retro Night. The event begins at 7 p.m. Saturday in Elwood featuring a car show and a drive-in movie screening of the 1984 film, “Footloose.”

The Elwood Area Foundation and Phelps County Development Corporation teach the yearlong YELP academy for Phelps and Gosper county students.

“(They are) learning about leadership, personal development with the end goal being a community project. Even though the classes are held together, each student is responsible for their own project. The Elwood students decided to work together,” said Melissa Vinzant, executive director of Elwood Area Foundation.

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The trio began organizing the event in the spring and worked together to receive approval from the village; find a location for the car show and movie; locate a screen, speaker system and transmitter so participants may listen to the movie on their radio; and get copyrights to show the film.

Diefenbaugh said, “You don’t realize all that has to go into it. We didn’t realize we’d have to pay for the copyrights and the transmitter.”

The students reached out to local business The Home Agency and the Jim and Sharri Baldonado family to sponsor the event to pay for the costs incurred in order for the event to remain free to the public. They also worked together to advertise the event. Knoerzer designed a flyer to hang in local businesses, Gutierrez created memes to share on social media about Retro Night and Diefenbaugh spread the word on Facebook and Instagram.

Elwood Retro Night will begin with registration for the car show at 7 p.m. on Calvert Avenue by the Gosper County Senior Center. Viewing of the cars will begin at 7:15 p.m., and the cars will be announced at 7:30 p.m. during a drive by the Civic Center.

The movie, which will be shown at Rockford Street in the empty lot by the Gosper County Fairgrounds, will begin at sundown. Viewers may watch from their vehicle or bring a blanket or chair to sit outside. Participants are invited to bring their own snacks and drinks.

Since they began planning the project, the students agrees they have all developed more confidence, leadership and time management skills. They’ve had an enthusiastic response from the community and they hope Retro Night becomes an annual event.

Knoerzer said, “I’m hoping it’s really a good turnout and just a great experience. I just love the old retro kind of thing. To be able to experience that for one night, it’s just really cool.”

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