Drive-In Theater Hosts Citizenship Ceremony for 150 New Americans Because of COVID

September 23, 2020 Updated: September 23, 2020

A drive-in movie theater hosted an emotional citizenship ceremony on Sept. 18, which saw 150 people representing 50 different countries sworn in as citizens of the United States of America.

The ceremony took place at the Starlite Drive-In theater in Clermont County, Ohio, and was officiated by Judge Beth Buchanan. The day was a long time coming for many of the attendees who stood by their vehicles, in compliance with social distancing rules, spaced 6 feet apart and wearing masks.

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The Starlite Drive-In movie theater in Clermont County, Ohio (Screenshot/Google Maps)
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A woman is sworn in as a new U.S. citizen from inside a vehicle at a drive-in naturalization ceremony in Santa Ana, Calif., on July 29, 2020. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Footage shot by WKRC depicts 150 new citizens next to their cars with their right hands raised and swearing the oath of allegiance to make their long-awaited American citizenship official.

Hordense Massa, originally from Cameroon, Central Africa, told the news outlet that she had waited over six years to be sworn in. She described feeling “very excited” and also “scared” to finally make her dream a reality.

“I’ve been here for seven years and it’s been a long process,” another attendee, Claudia Trenum, explained. “I’m very excited, it’s a big day.”

Maria Porter, who attended with her mother, said: “She’s so excited for our family. It’s completely—it’s a dream come true.”

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A new U.S. citizen sits in a vehicle while being sworn in by an immigration service officer in Santa Ana, California, on July 29, 2020 (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The Sept. 18 ceremony was the third of its kind to take place at the Starlite Drive-In.

The drive-through-style oath takings are a 2020 phenomenon, a result of the pandemic and subsequent virus-containment measures implemented across the United States and the world. They have provided a novel solution to what was fast becoming a backlog of unfulfilled applications.

Madeline Kristoff, field officer for the San Diego U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, lauded the drive-through ceremonies as being “fun” and “a lot more personal, almost.”

Officers, she explained, “get to participate in ways they normally don’t get to … And it’s really fun to talk to people who are driving through and get to hear a little of their stories.”

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