While the springtime game may be a time for Iowa football coach Kirk Ferenz to test quarterbacks, receivers and running backs, it’s also a time for Norwalk resident Gary Marker to test his game-day Hawkeye drive-in theater.
On Saturdays each autumn, Marker transforms his garage from a carport to a virtual theater for himself, his family and most of his neighborhood to watch the Iowa Hawkeyes take on the likes of the Iowa State Cyclones or Ohio State Buckeyes.
“For big games, we’ll have 20-25 people over to watch the Hawks roll over the ’Clones or whoever,” says Marker. “Some of our neighbors are ISU fans, so those games are always fun, especially recently.”
While Marker has been a Hawk fan, he has not had his Hawk Theater until about five years ago.
“We bought the projector for a camping trip. We’d watch movies on the side of a trailer,” says Marker. “The Hawkeye games were just kind of an afterthought, but it’s really taken off.”
To transform the garage from a place to park cars to Hawkeye fan paradise, a black curtain is dropped from the door opening, and a Hawkeye tent is erected inside the garage to darken the 10-foot screen. Surround sound completes the package for a real theater experience.
“When we started, we would just show the game on the garage door for night games,” says Marker. “The rest just kind of evolved.”
While Marker was a long-time holder of season tickets, like many young parents, he gave them up when his two kids were 3 or 4 and their activies made getting away for the whole day for a game impractical.
“This big-screen garage thing has made game day really fun, right here at home,” he says. “And I can still get to all the kids’ games and activities.”
With the spring game now past, Marker, and many in his neighborhood, have crisp Saturday afternoons in October to look forward to as the Hawks make another bid to play a January game.