Distelfink Drive-In Neon Sign – Gettysburg, Pa

2024 photo of the Distelfink Drive-In neon sign in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

A Distelfink is a folk art motif commonly found in Pennsylvania Dutch (German) culture. It’s a stylized representation of a goldfinch, often depicted with colorful feathers and floral elements and is considered a symbol of good fortune. The remains of this neon sign stand outside the old Distelfink Drive-in in Gettysburg, Pa.

historic photo of a postcard featuring the Distelfink Drive-In in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Source: York Daily Record

While looking around for information about the old drive-in, I read this Gettysburg Times article from 2019 which featured a story about the restoration of the business and property. When I was there in early 2024, it didn’t look like that ever came to fruition. But as we know, 2020 and the pandemic changed things for the world. I didn’t see anything more recent posted featuring plans or progress.

One thing that won’t change is the business’s iconic bird-shaped sign, which is based on a stylized goldfinch often seen in Pennsylvania Dutch folk art.

It will be “refurbished” to “bring it back to its original shape with the neon and all that good stuff,” Stremmel said.

Efforts to create the same atmosphere as “back in the day” have been under way at the site for some time, he said. Early in 2018, heavy equipment demolished additions to the original 1950s structure.

Gettysburg Times

What remains of the Distelfink Drive-in and its lovely neon sign can be found at: 2699 Old Harrisburg Rd, Gettysburg, PA 17325


Rachael is the whimsical writer behind the 20+ year old Girlie Motorcycle Blog. As a freelance blogger, she is on a mission to inspire laughter, self-examination, curiosity, and human connection. Girlie Motorcycle Blog can be found on several Best Motorcycle Blog lists.

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5 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    I remember that sign of a trip back from Gettysburg, that’s what happens when you play where does that road go. How are you these days Rachael? Are you riding motorcycles at all? I just retired and have $ to get any bike I want but it seems like a hassle somehow. The whole thing, everything. I hope you are doing well.

    • Fuzzygalore says:

      Hi Mike 🙂
      Long time, no see. Thanks, I’m doing good here on the soggy Isle of Long. Looking forward to the spring weather hanging around for good.

      If i recall correctly, it’s been some time since you’ve had a bike, hasn’t it? Though it’s a hassle right now – there is nothing tickling your fancy?

      Yessir – still riding!

      • Mike says:

        How did you like the KTM 690? I was wondering about the reliability and maintenance (hate the price). I like the Tenere but people say its top heavy, the Transalp might be good but with accessories its a little heavier than I want. I kinda have to go by best nearby dealer and the best one sells KTM, Yamaha and CF Moto. What happened to that guy who rode hundreds of miles without worrying about flats and things? There’s a Honda dealer almost as close but its smaller and I get the feeling the mechanics are busy working on lawnmowers and tractors. I’m glad you put an exclamation mark after still riding, it made me smile!

  2. Lowell says:

    Hi Rachael, Another interesting article, and good research on your part, nice photos. I just did a little research myself and found out that Cecil D. Sandoe, the guy that was the founder (or a co-founder along with his parents) of the Distelfink Drive-In (first opened in 1954) passed away in May of last year (2023), at the age of 89. The property sat empty since 2010. But you probably ran across this info already.

  3. Alison says:

    People were working on it today

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