On June 8, in order to fund needed repair expenses, the South Drive-In Theatre will have a special benefit showing of the 1984 film, “Ghostbusters.”
Sony asked the South Drive-In to play the original “Ghostbusters” for one night only.
Interest in repairing the drive-in started in mid-May, when wife and husband Cheryl Mead and David Mead, both passionate about the drive-in, approached operator Ron Cooper about making modifications.
“The main focuses right now are painting the big screen, it’s about 60 feet tall, and doing some repairs to the barrier fence that goes around the whole drive-in,” said Cheryl Mead. “I told Ron that I’d start gathering up people that would probably be interested in helping.”
Since then, they have started a campaign on Facebook that has picked up traction, promoting the benefit and spreading awareness for the needed modifications.
Cheryl Mead said this is a coordinated effort, and that they have many interested parties, including small-business owners and community youth.
The “Ghostbusters” showing will happen before any major repairs are made, with the goal being to have at least the screen repainted by June 19, to officially start off the opening season.
Tentative plans to start work on the drive-in are projected for the weekend of June 6 or June 13, pending supplies bought with the money from the benefit and volunteer availability.
Ron Cooper said they expect to start showing new films around the middle of July, but until then will have other showings.
“We’ll find ways to operate safely and get back to normal,” Cooper said.
In following with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, people will be required to wear masks when going into the restroom and concession facility, while every other parking spot will be spaced off in order to adhere to social-distancing procedures.
Whether or not the concessions will open by the time of the benefit showing is still currently pending until a way to safely open them is reached. If it does open, people will be required to wear masks when approaching.
The South Drive-In was opened by Glen and Roma Cooper, parents of Ron Cooper, in 1947 and is one of only five left in Kansas, when there once was about 125. Many drive-in movie theaters across the country have closed already, due to them being unfortunately deemed a dying venue, with only around 330 out of about 4,000 still operating.
“We consider it a personal landmark,” said David Mead. “We like to preserve things from the past and it doesn’t really get that much more nostalgic than the drive-in.”
People are encouraged to come early and show their support for a classic piece of real American culture by getting a picture with a working replica of the “Ecto-1,” the car from the movie.
The South Drive-In is located at 1019 McArtor Road, and tickets will be available at the box office at 8:30 p.m., $10 per carload, with the show starting at 9:15 p.m. All additional donations are welcome.