The Huntington Drive-In will begin its new season with new owners, longtime owners John and Nellie Detzler announced Sunday in a newsletter.
The Detzlers, who have owned the 12-acre lot at 1291 Condit St. in Huntington since 2001, signed a purchase agreement Friday with plans to end their ownership on April 15. Established in 1950, the theater will celebrate its 65th anniversary this year.
John Detzler said he and his wife plan to permanently relocate to their 5-acre property in southwest Colorado, where they have spent their time during the theater's off-season.
"There are two major reasons: I'm 61 and my wife is 68, and we've tried to do most everything ourselves, including the long, late hours," Detzler said. "Our primary plan, dream and goal has always been to relocate (to Colorado) permanently."
With details still being completed, Detzler did not want to identify the new owner. The theater has been up for sale since July 2013.
Detzler said he and his wife will help the owners with the transition by training new staff for their tentative opening on May 1. The new owner is also expected to install a digital projector, which is becoming a standard for movie theaters.
"The staff that they're going to use are already familiar with the theater business, but we're just going to help them get up and running," Detzler said.
He said the contract also gives the couple the option to operate the drive-in one last time for a free 65th anniversary show on April 24 and 25, which he said is still under consideration, depending on what film is available and the cost.
"I don't know what the word is — it's bittersweet," Detzler said. "We're both very glad that we found a buyer and that they plan on keeping it a drive-in, but on the other hand, I'm sure there will be times when I will miss some of our loyal customers."