Cool cars and hot rods

By Keith Strange

June 22, 2014

Mount Airy’s Main Street could easily have been mistaken for Anytown, U.S.A., circa 1965, Saturday afternoon.

The sounds of the rumbling engines of muscle cars mingled with oldies from artists including Ray Charles and Bill Haley and the Comets as the city hosted this year’s first Mayberry Cool Cars and Rods Cruise-In.

It was an event attended by hundreds of participants and hundreds more spectators.

While the event officially got under way at 4 p.m., earlier in the day enthusiastic car owners cruised the street, to the delight of those visiting the stores and chatting with neighbors.

Saturday’s cruise-in featured classic cars, oldies music provided by WSYD 1300 Granite Gold, street vendors, a 50/50 raffle and door prizes for the drivers.

And there were cars for every taste.

From a 1967 Mount Airy fire truck that is being restored to a pristine 1955 Chevrolet Bel-Air that drew “oohs” and “ahhs” from the crowd, there were plenty of classic restored cars for the crowd to ogle.

“You don’t see too many of these at cruise-ins,” said Mount Airy Fire Engineer Steve Everett, who brought the truck to the event. “We’re in the process of trying to renovate this truck through donations, so we thought we’d bring it down to let people look at it. It was one of our first fire trucks and was sold as surplus. The buyer donated it to us.”

For attendee Don Holder, who brought his restored 1955 Ford Crown Victoria to the cruise-in, it was a chance to show off his toys.

“I have six restored automobiles,” he said, “and I like for people to look at them. A lot of people haven’t had the chance to see these kinds of old cars up close, and I guess we just like showing them off.”

According to organizer Phil Marsh, who also serves as president of the Mount Airy Downtown Business Association, the goal is to get people downtown and having fun.

“We hold the cruise-in because we want to help the town and Main Street,” he said. “We want people to come out and we want them to feel welcome when they get here. We want them to see our beautiful town and enjoy themselves and maybe come back to visit again.

“It’s just a fun event and a great way for folks to play with their toys.”

Dripping sweat as he hurriedly parked cars, Marsh said the event was “going great.”

“They’re rolling in,” he said. “We have a big turnout and a lot of nice, pretty cars. People seem to be really enjoying it.”

For a first time this year, many of the unique stores lining Main Street kept their doors open to the cruisers.

“We’re trying to get the downtown businesses to keep their doors open and maybe people may drop by and buy something,” Marsh said.

Mount Airy Main Street Coordinator Lizzie Morrison said keeping the businesses open just makes good sense with the crowd expected.

“We want the community to know that we appreciate their support of downtown, and we’re staying open late to accommodate everyone,” she said.

It was a sentiment echoed by Marty Adams, owner of the Mayberry Antique Mall.

“This is a chance for us to stay open for the people who are coming downtown,” Adams said. “It’s only right if they’re coming down for the businesses to stay open for them.”

Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.