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A look at the Mesa Drive-in

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The Mesa Drive-In Theatre located in Blende is the only drive-in theatre in Southern Colorado.

It has three separate screens that each play a double feature starting at dusk. The cost $7.50 per person and children under 12 are free.

The Mesa Drive-In is a first run theatre, meaning that they get new movies as soon as they are released, said Mark Lovato, theatre manager.

Right now the theatre is showing three double features, including Kung Fu Panda and the Incredible Hulk, Wall-E and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Get Smart and You Don’t Mess with Zohan. All showings start at dusk and the last show usually ends around 1:30 a.m., Lovato said.

The Mesa Drive-In has concessions that includes a full grill and offers hamburgers, hot dogs, and deep-fried burritos, as well as candy, soda, popcorn, and soft-serve vanilla ice-cream.

To compensate for cheap admission price, almost all of the income the drive-in receives comes from concessions, according to Lonnie, a Mesa Drive-In security personnel.

Rumors have circulated around Pueblo that the Mesa Drive-In will have to close soon because of a lack of customers. These rumors are untrue, Assistant Manager Mike Valdez said.

Kids 12 and under have been granted free admittance since the theatre opened in 1951.

In 2000 the theatre added two more screens.

In 1994 Chuck and Marianne James bought the theatre, and “… seven days after they bought it it was scheduled to be demolished,” said Lovato, who has been working there since 1995.

“Chuck and Marianne saved it,” Lovato said. He credits the couple with keeping the business afloat all these years.

On a Wednesday night the smaller lots will have only about twenty cars, but on the weekend the largest lot, which holds 345 cars, will fill up completely, Valdez said.

Crime at the drive-in is virtually non-existant, thanks in part to the fact that there is a security officer on patrol seven nights a week, Lovato said.

Local residents may recall that there used to be four drive-in theatres in Pueblo, including the Mesa Drive-In.

There was the Lake Drive-In on the south side near the dog track, which closed in the late 1980s and was torn down in 1997. There was also the Pueblo Drive-In, which was located where Lowes Hardware is on Highway 50. The Pueblo Drive-In closed in 1992, caught on fire and then was torn down in 1994, according to longtime Pueblo resident Tom Burns.

There was also a drive in theatre on the east side, called the East Side Theatre which played movies mostly in Spanish, Burns said.