MITCHELL, S.D. (KELO) – Movies are back under the stars in Mitchell, South Dakota for the summer. The Starlite Drive-in is officially open again. It’s the outdoor theater’s third season after being closed for seven years.
Even a little rain isn’t stopping movie-goers from welcoming back this favorite summer activity.
“I mean, it’s worth it. If it rains, it’s not that big of a deal, you crawl back into your vehicle, wait for the rain to stop, come back out. I mean, it’s just fun. It’s worth it,” Sarah Burkel from Woonsocket said.
Ten years ago, the gates to the Starlite closed for good, or at least that’s what owner Jeff Logan thought. In 2020, he reopened the drive-in so people could safely watch movies while the indoor theaters were closed. Now, the Starlite is still going strong and beginning its third season back.
“You know, the number of drive-in theaters in the US is down to the low three hundreds now,” Logan said. “So the numbers keep going down as they get gobbled up by property development or whatever. So it’s wonderful to be able to keep a drive-in going, period, and to have one here in small-town South Dakota.”
Old and new customers are happy to see this outdoor theater thriving.
“I was so excited, I was like ‘oh childhood memories!’ I was really, really excited,” Olivia Walz from Mitchell said.
“I grew up with drive-in movies and it’s just kind of those really fun things. I mean, you come out here in your camping chairs or load up your back end of your truck with blankets and pillows and you just have fun,” Burkel said.
“It’s fun, it’s a good place to be at in the summer when you have nothing to do.” Breanna Kirsch from Mitchell said.
“Especially since it was such a big aspect in both our childhoods just having it open again was just something really nice to have,” Ryan Chapman from Mitchell said.
Mini golf has also returned to the drive-in, allowing customers to have some fun while waiting for the movie to start. And there are new food options to enjoy as well.
“We now have chislic that we get from the chislic king at Kaylor lockers and we cook it right here at the Starlite,” Logan said. “Of course, pizza, chicken strips, so we’ve really upgraded the menu with some great food so you can have supper at the Starlite when you come out.”
The 2022 season kicked off with a showing of the blockbuster ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home,’ but there are other big name movies scheduled to play at the Starlite as well.
“So we’ll be opening ‘Top Gun’ on the national break along with the indoor theater,” Logan said. “Same thing with ‘Jurassic World: Dominion,’ ‘Minions: The Rise of Gru.’ So there’s some good action pictures, some good family pictures. This looks like a great summer of movies.”
Rain or shine, the Starlite is ready to offer some summertime fun for everyone.
“All the workers are nice here, good food, just a good place to be, good atmosphere,” Kirsch said.
“You’re able to hang out and like have the movie theater aspect but not having the whole quiet aspect and having to just sit there and watch. But you can like talk and just hang out while you’re watching the movie too,” Isabella Gortmaker from Mt. Vernon said.
With no plans to close again anytime soon, movies and popcorn will continue to be enjoyed under the stars in Mitchell, South Dakota.
This weekend the Starlite will be showing ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2.’ Gates open at 7:30