Boulevard marks 60th year of movies

Boulevard screen at dusk with vapor trails

photo by Terry Shuck, used by permission

KCTV, Kansas City MO’s news leader, ran a loving tribute to the Boulevard Drive-In, across the border in Kansas City KS. The occasion was the presentation of a plaque commemorating the Boulevard’s 60th year; it opened in 1954.

A particularly interesting sidenote is that, according to the article, Kansas City “is the only city in the country to have three” living drive-in theaters. Actually, that author must be referring to the metro area, since the Twin (Independence MO) and the I-70 (Kansas City MO) are really in different cities. That triggers all sort of memories for me, since that’s the metro area where I was born and raised. I’ve attended all three of these, and I also remember some drive-ins that are long gone, sitting in the back of a borrowed van at the 63rd Street, seeing Blazing Saddles at the Leawood, and watching Star Trek 5 with my dear wife at the State. I wonder what has made the KC area such fertile ground for drive-ins. My guess would be that land prices haven’t skyrocketed the way they have elsewhere.

Oh yes, back to the KCTV article. It includes a bounty of quotes from Wes Neal, a part of the Boulevard since 1954. For example, one of the Boulevard’s distinguishing characteristics is that it kept its speakers even as many drive-ins have gone FM-only. “We want to keep it like the original drive-in, and we keep every one of the speakers working perfectly all the time, so every week we have to check every speaker and repair them as necessary,” he said.

The article also points out another distinguishing point – the Boulevard was the first drive-in to go digital, early in 2012. I saw Men In Black 3 there during a visit last year, and it looked great. But maybe I should stop rambling about my Kansas City drive-in roots and just let you go read it!

One thought on “Boulevard marks 60th year of movies

  1. It’s just nuts that so many of these places have gone out of business over the last decade or so. And terribly unfair. I’m happy that there are still a few of them around the metro.

    There’s just something about the experience. Watching a movie out doors, on a huge screen. The smell of popcorn and corn dogs wafting through the air, and echoing speakers and radios that aren’t quite in sync with the movie. It’s subtle. It’s magical. And it’s the kind of thing I want to expose my daughter to. She’ll be three next week, and I don’t want her to go through life without having seen a drive-in movie.

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