Lights shining from new development hurting drive-in business

RUSKIN, Fla. - A local drive-in theater is worried about losing more money because a new development opened across the street.

The owner of the Ruskin Family Drive-In Theater said the lights shinning from across the street are hurting his business and blinding people, who are trying to watch a movie. He said headlights are bothering people too when people leave the drive-thru.

“Since they turned their lights on 6 months ago, the second week after their lights went on, our attendance started declining and in 6 months it’s down 20 percent,” owner John Freiwald said.

The theater opened in the early 1950s.

“Saturday a week ago and this Saturday, between them, I’ve given $452 worth of refunds for something that really isn’t my problem,” Freiwald said.

Freiwald is fighting so that future generations can enjoy the drive-in theater.

“To try to describe to you what it is about this theater..possibly a little of it has to do with the fact there’s only seven left in the state,” Freiwald said.

The lights don’t bother Amanda Janzen.

“Only when it gets really dark," she said. "Once it starts getting really dark and the sun goes down, then it’s on the back of the screen,” Janzen said.

Freiwald said the development owners did add shades to a few lights, but it wasn’t enough. He said they were working with him, but he hasn't seen much improvement and he hopes more is done. ABC Action News is working to get a response from the owners of the property across the street.

“I may not lose it, but I’ll be in awful bad shape. I can’t continue to be nice giving that many people their money back,” Freiwald said. 

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