As students trade school days for summer, the historic Mission Drive-In Theatre will open its newly grassed lawns to families and individuals alike this Saturday, June 7. The historic venue has a new life and a new name: Mission Marquee Plaza.
The beloved Southside landmark will be showcasing its $2.3 million facelift this weekend, which began in February 2012 and was completed in April 2013, according to Melissa Sparks of the City of San Antonio’s Office of Transportation & Capital Improvements. The Mission Marquee Plaza is now managed by the Department for Culture & Creative Development (DCCD).
“We revitalized the mural of San José, redid the marquee, and what used to be pavement is now grass, which serves as a picnic area rather than a drive-thru,” Sparks said, “We also added a restroom facility, and on top of that, a projection room to screen films.”
Other renovations include a 1,700-square-foot stage, a new parking lot, and new LED lighting to showcase the marquee, replacing the dated, neon-tubed lighting.
The 1948 drive-in theatre will no longer host families, couples and others in cars parked on its lawn, gazing up at feature films like "Pirates of Monterey," but visitors will still find the same friendly and familiar atmosphere that attracted generations to the Roosevelt Avenue landmark and longtime neighbor of Mission San José.
“It’s about discovering all over again,” explained District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran. “We hope it will be a focal point to bring people all over San Antonio to join together in one gathering space.”
Why the delayed grand opening celebration? A year ago, the theatre wasn’t quite ready to show films on the big screen. An inflatable screen was substituted instead while city officials waited for newly-planted grass to take root, according to Sparks.
Saturday's highly anticipated family event in partnership with Gemini Ink, Paletas y Poesia, is set to begin at 4 p.m with various poetry and book readings, a DJ, a children’s skit and a live performance from the Bombasta Barrio Band which will get people out of their law chairs and on to the dance floor. San Antonio's newly-minted poet laureate Laurie Ann Guerrero will read and perform at 7 p.m.
The readings of poetry and literature go hand-in-hand with the Mission Public Library, which sits on the same property as the Mission Drive-Thru, and already has attracted a dedicated following to its comfy and relaxed reading nooks with the view of Mission San José.
“We hope to create a great environment for the family,” said Viagran.
The DCCD has planned a series of summer events including movie nights, music and dance performances, and a back-to-school event in August.
With Saturday's festivities unfolding at one of the city's oldest and most sacred gathering places, that seems like a sure thing.
*Featured/top image: Historic picture of the Marquee Mural on the Mission Drive-In. Image courtesy of the City of San Antonio.