Faces of Kansas City: Boulevard Drive-In celebrates anniversary - KCTV5

Faces of Kansas City: Boulevard Drive-In celebrates unique anniversary

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KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -

It's no secret that drive-in theatres have been struggling. There are less than 370 left in the U.S. Kansas City, though, is the only city in the country to have three.

There's the I-70 Drive-In, just off of Interstate 70 and East Stadium Drive, the Twin Drive-In at East Kentucky Road and Missouri Route 291 in Independence, MO, and then there's the Boulevard Drive-In, located at 1051 Merriam Lane in Kansas City, KS, which just celebrated a unique anniversary.

With kids dancing, adults hula-hooping and even the monkey bars in high demand at the Boulevard Drive-In grounds, the first movie of the double feature wasn't even close to starting.

"That's the good part about this place, people can come in and visit before the show and just have fun. Kids can play on the playground," said Wes Neal with the Boulevard Drive-In theatre.

Neal would know because he's been a part of the Boulevard Drive-In since 1954.

"Well, I had to make a living. No, it's just that I like it - it's a passion," he said when asked what's kept him around for so long.

It's Neal's passion that's helped the drive-in thrive while others around the country continue to dry up. He's a stickler for details and is adamant that his drive-in retain the charm that made them so popular in the 50s and 60s.

"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.

But he's savvy enough to keep up with the times and evolving technology. The Boulevard was the first drive-in to go digital with a 4-K resolution projector.

"Easiest way to explain it is everybody has a computer. The resolution on their screen is 1,000 by 720 and this thing is 4,000 by 3,000 pixels," Brian Neal with the Boulevard Drive-In said.

Translated, the digital projector makes for a sharper, clearer and brighter picture on the 100-foot-wide, 50-foot-tall giant screen.

Yet loyal customers come to the theater for simpler reasons.

"You bring whatever food you want to bring or get something from the snack bar and just have a nice night and have fun enjoying yourself and spending time with family and friends," Tom Mcanerney said.

The Kansas City Social Club meets for a movie at the theater once a month.

"It's something we really like doing, we love this place and the owner is super nice to us. He really, really likes us and always makes us feel welcome. It's a great price and it's a great chance to socialize with people before and between movies," said Jenny Tucker with the Kansas City Social Club.

Wes Neal is so popular among his customers he was recently awarded with a plaque commemorating his 60 years at the drive-in.

"(I intend to keep the theater running) Another 60 years! Why not?" he said.

They only take cash at the Boulevard Drive-In and showing this weekend is a double feature including the new Superman movie Man of Steel and After Earth.

Click here for the theater's website.

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