Moviegoers Line The Street In Carnegie As 106-Year-Old Movie Theater Reopens After Shutting Down Due To COVID

Friday, November 26th 2021, 6:34 pm

CARNEGIE, Oklahoma -

The pandemic shut down a 106-year-old movie theater, but it's found its second wind. Thanks to a small business grant, people from near and far headed out to Carnegie to catch a show. 

Families lined the block to grab a ticket and a show dog, because after 18 months, it's showtime at the the Liberty Theatre.

"So, I never came here until I married into the family, but it just took one time and then I've been hooked. So, I said, 'you know what? Even if we can't get in, we're at least going to try,'" said Jessica Ruckman.

Excited moviegoers lined Carnegie's Main Street to sit back and enjoy the show for the first time since the more than century-old theatre shuttered because of COVID.

"[It was] terrible," said Liberty Theatre's owner Jerry Applewhite. "We used to advertise as Oklahoma's longest continually running movie theater, but I guess that's gone now. Put an asterisk, COVID."

Applewhite bought the Liberty in the 70s from its original owner. He closed it for the first time about 18 months ago. 

A small business grant helped Applewhite open its doors again on Wednesday, and people who live near and far came out in droves.

"We came for Thanksgiving, and then, we heard this was opening and we were all real excited to come over," said moviegoer Ellie Reeder. 

More than 600 people came out to catch a flick re-opening day, but even more came to take a movie snack to go. 

"Definitely show some dogs. Probably quite a few of those," said Ruckman. 

"Oh gosh, well, they are pretty much the world's greatest hotdog," Reeder said. 

"The first day it was just under 5,000," said Applewhite. "We had about 300 people yesterday and those people don't have turkey dinner. They have hotdogs."

Some of the smallest film critics also have some advice for first timers eating chili dogs in the dark.

"A little messy, a little messy. They have chili on them. Totally worth it," said Reeder and her younger sisters. 

"It's hard no to spill chili off. That's why I always get a napkin with mine," Reeder's sister said.

Applewhite was left almost speechless by the amount of people excited to step inside the 106-year-old theater once again.

"(It's) heartwarming. People feel like this is their theater. I'm the owner, but it's theirs," said Applewhite.

Click here to view showtimes at the Liberty Theatre.

Liberty Theatre is also hiring and applicants must be 16 and older.