Aurora drive-in opens for the season with changes to practice social distancing

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AURORA, Mo. (KY3) - A southwest Missouri drive-in is opening for the first time tonight since some social gathering limits have been restricted. The owner said it normally would've opened a month ago.

The scene was quite different than a normal summer Saturday night at the Sunset Drive-In Theater in Aurora. Normally, 300 cars can pack into parking lot to watch a movie on the big screen. To allow for social distancing, the owner only allowed in about half of that.

Kayette Glass has been bringing her boys to the drive-in in Aurora since they were little.

"We come every summer to see the movie and just spend time together as a family," Glass said.

This time, they got in line right at 6:00 p.m., almost three hours before the movie was set to start, to make sure they got a spot.

"I'm not too upset that they're to put spaces between us because a lot of the times it's pretty packed in here and we're all on top of each other," said Glass.

Owner Larry Marks said he's doing what he can to make sure everyone is safe while seeing the show.

"It's going to be a slow process but all of this is better than the alternative which is not at all," Marks said.

Marks said the concession stand will be open, but only two people will be allowed in at a time, one to order and one to pick-up food. He said one person or one family will be allowed in the restrooms at a time, and hand sanitizer will be used before and after going in.

The playgrounds will be open, because Marks said that's in line with the Lawrence County Health Department's regulations.

"We're going to follow the rules. I would just hate to see somebody catch something like this from a drive-in, any drive-in…The least of all, I would hope it won't happen at ours," Marks said.

Marks has owned the drive-in since the 1970's and said he never imaged having to take precautions during a pandemic, but families like Glass' are thankful for protections at their favorite place.

Glass' son Xavier Hauck said, "You just spend more time with your family, it's more of a natural environment to spend relaxed and not to do much stuff."

"There's a big screen," said her younger son Elijah.

Marks said this is going to be an interesting summer for his drive-in. He's not just showing movies, but also holding church services and concerts here as well, since other entertainment venues are not able to open yet.