By Melanie J. Knox, Page Editor
Sonic on Judge Ely Boulevard was hopping in an entirely different way Saturday.
In addition to an Alpha Kai Omega volleyball tournament and customers in the batting cages, on the playground and eating in their cars, directors and video cameras from the Travel Channel littered the parking lot as reporters interviewed customers, managers and car hops.
The Judge Ely Sonic will be one of five featured in 2003 on the Travel Channel’s series “Travel Channel Secrets” as one of five fast food places that have been named “Most Fun Fast Food Stops in America.”
Abilene’s Sonic was nominated because of all of the extra amenities, like the volleyball court and batting cages. Other fast food places nominated were a Wendy’s in Alaska and a McDonald’s in New York.
“We’ve been busy all day,” said Celina Abernathy, manager of communications at Sonic Industries. “Joel [Sonic’s manager] offered specials today, and everyone really found it exciting.”
Sonic gave away prizes such as a Coca-Cola Chiller Cooler, a Coca-Cola folding chair, T-shirts and Wacky Pack plush toys.
Gary Skiles, director and producer for the program, said the Sonic facility is terrific to look at, which made shooting easier.
“The people here have been very open and excited,” he said. “We try to treat them with respect, and we get it right back.”
Skiles, who travels constantly, said he enjoys meeting all sorts of people and has worked on everything from documentaries to the Olympics.
“It’s never the same,” Skiles said. “Every day is different.”
Skiles had the opportunity to interact with ACU students who were there to participate in or watch the volleyball tournament, and he seemed in high spirits despite the amount of work that had been done that day.
“The ACU students have been great, and really nice,” he said. “They’ve been a lot of fun to work with, and very polite and funny. We’ve interviewed several.”
Skiles said he tries to leave everyone on the site in a happy and fun mood.
“That’s important,” he said. “We are guests here, and we’d like to say thank you very much to everyone who was here today.”