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A View of the Moon and the Stars from West Parrish

Two of Owensboro’s most popular dining spots sit side-by-side on West Parrish Avenue. Moonlite BBQ Inn and The Big Dipper are local legends and have been drawing folks in for decades. The funny thing is it wasn’t until I was a young adult that I made the astronomical connection between their names. And then it occurred to me that they were only two-thirds of what was once a west end heavenly body monopoly.

In 1948, this incredible new innovation known as “the drive-in movie theatre” came to Owensboro with the arrival of the Starlite Drive-In. It sat on the property where Kroger now stands–on Starlite Drive, in fact. I don’t know why it was named Starlite other than the fact that when you watch a movie at a drive-in, your sitting under the stars. Seems pretty simple. As a kid, I remember my family driving by the theatre and being able to see a little of the movie playing on the big screen. You couldn’t see it all because of so many trees. And, really, my parents didn’t want me seeing too much; the Starlite would show R-rated movies. The Cardinal–where Glenn Funeral Home now stands on Breckenridge and Old Hartford–is where I saw my drive-in movies. But it’s cool that the Dipper and Moonlite maintained the theme created by the Starlite. It’s also cool that they continue to be among the most popular spots to bring visitors when they come to Owensboro–not just great places to eat, but great pieces of local history.

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