Oklahoma City's Winchester Drive-In theater will reopen after storm damage, owner says

Friday night's storm caused major damage to the Winchester Drive-In, the last remaining drive-in theater in Oklahoma City. Owner Lindy Shanbour said Monday he is determined to reopen the business, although he is not sure how long it will take to rebuild.
BY BRYAN DEAN bdean@opubco.com Modified: June 3, 2013 at 7:39 pm •  Published: June 4, 2013
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The owner of the last remaining drive-in movie theater in Oklahoma City said Monday he will rebuild and reopen after Friday night's storms caused major damage.

Strong straight-line winds or a small tornado tore the roof off the drive-in's main building, which houses a concession stand, projection room and an office. Besides the structural damage, the storm ruined the theater's digital projector and trashed the sound system.

The wind tore air conditioners and fans off the building's roof. One of the fans was used to cool the projector. When it was torn from the roof, it left a hole that channeled water directly into the projector.

Lindy Shanbour's family has owned the Winchester Drive-In, 6930 S Western Ave., since it opened in 1968. The building damaged Friday was built when the theater opened.

“That projector was brand new,” Shanbour said. “We just put it in a couple of weeks ago. You wouldn't believe what you would see on the screen. It was so bright and colorful.”

The storm also downed trees and a fence around the theater and put a small hole in the base of the screen, although the screen itself was unscathed. The drive-in's historic neon cowboy sign also survived, although half the marquee on the sign was blown out.

Running a drive-in theater is tough in the best of times, which is why there are only a few still open. The business model was obsolete long before streaming online movies.

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