Alisha, Ryan, Kean and Kelsey Flanagan watched “Despicable Me 3.” Christopher Smith | Special to Ink

After Hours: Celebrating a summer ritual at Boulevard Drive-in

Brandon Farrell brought his 1954 Chevrolet pickup to the Boulevard Drive In Theater in KCK. Christopher Smith | Special to Ink
Allie Morasch and her brother Jacob of Overland Park wait for the movie to start. Christopher Smith | Special to The Star
Boulevard Drive-In Theatre owner Wes Neal sits in the ticket booth. Neal, 90, has worked at the theater for 65 years. Christopher Smith | Special to The Star
Deanthony Green, II, 8, leans out of his family’s SUV as he waits for the movie to start. Christopher Smith | Special to Ink
Olivia Waddell, Jenna Schmidt and Alexa Cathol wait for the movie to start. Christopher Smith | Special to Ink
The Boulevard Drive-In Theatre. Christopher Smith | Special to Ink
Owner Wes Neal takes money at the entrance to the Boulevard Drive-In. Christopher Smith | Special to Ink
The Boulevard Drive-In Theatre in KCK has a playground to keep kids entertained as they wait for the movie to start. Christopher Smith | Special to Ink
Though the audio for the films is broadcast on an FM station, the Boulevard Drive-In Theatre still has vintage car speakers. Christopher Smith | Special to Ink
Haleigh Diffeley checks her phone as she waits for the movie to start. Christopher Smith | Special to Ink
Owner Wes Neal, 90, has worked at the theater for 65 years. Christopher Smith | Special to Ink
Brandon Farrell brought his1954 Chevrolet pickup to the Boulevard Drive-In. Christopher Smith | Special to Ink
Ravian Green paints her daughter Zooey’s toenails as they wait for the movie to start. Christopher Smith | Special to Ink

The drive-in movie experience is about so much more than just seeing a film on a big screen. There is something about it that is hardwired into our American DNA.

For Wes Neal, 90, owner of Boulevard Drive-in, it has been his life for 65 years. Wes still collects admission money at the front gate on Sunday nights, though his family now helps him run the theater. “It keeps me young,” he says.

The theater, 1051 Merriam Lane in KCK, holds the charm of years past with vintage speakers, a stainless steel snack bar and the iconic glowing red sign. And while some kids linger over electronic devices waiting for showtime, the movie titles change and the cars are newer, once the sun sets and the screen begins to glow, little changes for this summer ritual.

After Hours is Christopher Smith’s photo column exploring Kansas City at night. Send story ideas to info@inkkc.com.


After Hours: Celebrating a summer ritual at Boulevard Drive-in