Wichita’s Starlite Drive-In officially closed for business on Saturday, Oct. 13.
The drive-in was located in the 3900 block of South Hydraulic. It was long-standing and was known for showing double and triple features on weekends.
In a Facebook post, the business said it was “a difficult decision many years in the making with declining attendance and rapidly rising costs of maintenance and technology.”
People in Wichita say they’ve been going to see movies there for decades and they’re shocked at the announcement.
“I was crushed and a little heartbroken,” said Kathy Vestering, who has been going to Starlite since she was a kid. “That’s a big piece of my history and a lot of other people’s as well.”
Laura Baxter has been going to the drive-in for years, too, and started bringing her own kids.
“It was really fun,” Baxter said. “We would always load up the car with pillows and blankets and drinks and we’d buy food here and we’d had friends, family and meet people here.”
Vestering said she would go to Starlite at least five times every summer, even helping the drive-in out when needed.
“I understand it was not a big money maker and not a big profitable business, but it’s one that lots of people supported,” Vestering said. “My family supported. We donated lots of money to get the digital projectors. We pay extra money every time we go.”
Nostalgic is what people are calling it and the city said it will be a huge hit to the southside of Wichita.
“This is one of those things that’s an icon in our city and for it to be closed with very little explanation with the public, feeling like they’re hurt is tough,” said James Clendenin, Wichita City Council member.
The drive-in said it was honored to serve the community and thanked it staff and patrons.
The drive-in said a public auction will be held on Tuesday, November 13 at 10 a.m.
Items offered at auction will include theater equipment, Starlite memorabilia, neon signs, commercial kitchen equipment, car speaker sets, metal movie screens, office furniture, shop equipment, tools, golf carts, and more.