The latest news from KSNW, Wichita’s News Leader, about the Starlite Drive-In Theatre there is that over 200 residents rallied at a nearby park to protest its shutdown. Last month, owner Chuck Bucinski abruptly closed for the season, announced that the drive-in would not reopen, and scheduled an equipment auction for Nov. 13.
The protesters were joined by Rick Cohen, owner of Lockport NY’s Transit Drive-In, occasional contributor to this blog, and generally nice guy. Cohen told KSNW, “There’s no other drive-in theater like this in the country, it’s just designed, engineered and built to the highest standards in the drive in industry.”
According to the Wichita Eagle, Cohen and Blake Smith, co-owner of the Admiral Twin Drive-In in Tulsa OK, have extended a cash offer starting at $750,000 to purchase the Starlite from Bucinski and keep it running. They had been separately trying to buy the Starlite from longtime owner Jim Goble before he died of cancer in 2015.
I hadn’t mentioned that Eagle story or other followups because I’m just pessimistic about this whole situation. Bucinski has been quiet since making the closing announcements, and my guess is that his profitable sale of the Starlite’s land is already wrapped up. I don’t see any evidence that public protests are going to change his mind. I sincerely hope that I’m wrong.
At any rate, here’s one more chance to get a video glance at how the Starlite looks today. Just in case it’s our last look at a Wichita landmark.