Missouri drive-in reopening after 39 years

Refurbishment is well underway from the looks of this screen capture from a video on the Rock ‘N’ Roll Drive-In’s Facebook page.

Here’s more great news about the resuscitation of another long-dead drive-in. This time it’s the old Montgomery Drive-In in southeast Missouri. It closed after the 1981 season, but work is underway to reopen it this October as the Rock ‘N’ Roll Drive-In.

The new/old drive-in is about five miles due west of the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport. News reports call the community Blomeyer, an unincorporated area of Cape Girardeau County. The business sharing the site today gets its mail from the city of Chaffee, which is where the old drive-in lists placed it. Enough about that.

The original Montgomery held its grand opening on Easter Sunday, April 10, 1955, the same day Home of the Stars Drive-In also opened in Chaffee. That competitor closed in less than a decade. The Montgomery, owned first by Bernice Montgomery, had to rebuild its screen after a storm blew down the original redwood version in 1965. The new screen was made of steel-reinforced concrete. Clearly, it was built right.

That sturdy concrete screen is the focal point of Rock-in-Roll Drive-In co-owners Chuck Stratton and Jonny Tosarello. They’re working to clear the viewing field and clean the foliage off the screen, as they described to KFVS, Cape Girardeau’s News Leader. (That link includes a video. Wish I could have embedded it for you.)

Stratton told the SE Missouri State student newspaper, the Arrow, that he plans to charge by the Carload. Food trucks and a concession stand will provide the dining experience.

Tosarello said they were adding a new wrinkle. “We’re going to put effect lighting in all the trees and speakers in all the trees, and we’re going to time load those to the movies. So, when you’re watching a movie, something explodes, all the trees will turn red.” Let’s hope someone captures a video of that.

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