Hundreds turnout for Starlite Drive-in re-opening

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) Friday, March 1, 2019

(Source: McCurdy Auction)

It was a cold one Friday night, but that didn't stop Wichitan from coming out to support the re-opening of the Starlite Drive-in.

Cars lined up before sundown, more than an hour before showtime, to see one of two double features at the Wichita landmark.

Just a few months ago, people thought that would never happen again.

"My dad used to take us when we were kids and I remember hearing the old jingle for the Starlite Drive-in. Always brought back really good memories," said movie-goer Stratford Ukena.

The community raised nearly $200,000 to buy new equipment for the drive-in. Jennifer White's daughter, Hadley, was one of the younger people who was set on keeping the drive-in alive.

"We came to the rallies this past summer. We went to the city council meetings and all that kind of stuff," said Jennifer. "So we decided that we were going to be here opening night if it opened up again."

Marsha Smith was first in line. She and her husband were there to celebrate her birthday.

"We come every year. We try to be the first, if not the first 10 every time we get here," she said.

For others, Friday night's soft re-opening was the start of something new.

"I've never been to a drive-in before in my life," said moviegoer Daisy Shea. "So, it makes it a lot more special for me because I've never been to a drive-in before so it's a whole new experience for me."

You can find movie listings, pricing and hours on the Starlite Drive-in website.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Starlite Drive-in re-opens in Wichita Friday, March 1

Ahead of Friday night's features, a representative says there would be a limited menu in the concession stand, but movies would be playing.

Movies Friday night start at 7:30 p.m. with How to Train Your Dragon and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse on one screen and Green Book and The Upside on the other.

Blake Smith and his staff have been working to get the south Wichita theater up and running since December. Smith also operates Tulsa's drive-in.

A big part of getting the Starlite back up and running was the projectors. The theater's previous owner sold them off.

The Wichita city council approved a $200,000 loan to buy new projectors. Funds raised by faithful followers of the drive-in will be used to help repay the loan.

Fans of the Starlite will notice changes, including improved audio that comes from car speakers, made possible with the installation of an FM transmitter.

The theater's owners say the picture quality will also be better, thanks to the new digital projectors.