The annual Mayberry Cool Cars and Rods Cruise-In series that resumes in downtown Mount Airy this Saturday will still boast some of the finest classic vehicles around, but is shifting into high gear with expanded activities.
This new approach represents an attempt to not only appeal to auto enthusiasts, but members of the general public who don’t own classic cars, according to Jennie Lowry of the sponsoring Downtown Business Association.
She said “more good clean fun” is in store this year for an expanded cruise-in series here that organizers think will be the best ever. The first cruise-in of the season will run from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s already a great event, but we wanted to make it different from the other cruise-ins around,” Lowry said of the changes in store this year for Mount Airy’s version of the popular phenomenon.
The main difference will involve the adoption of a theme for each of the cruise-ins, which are scheduled on the third Saturdays of each month from June through October.
This Saturday’s theme will be “The 1950s.”
All those who attend are encouraged to dress in their finest ’50s attire, with music from that era to enhance the atmosphere.
Entertainment again will be provided by DJs from the Granite City Gold component of local radio station WSYD.
A “best dressed” award will go to those whose attire most fits in the respective themes of each Mayberry Cool Cars and Rods Cruise-In and plaques are to be given at every event for “cool ride of the month” and “ladies choice” winners.
The awards ceremony takes place shortly before 8 p.m., with door prizes also to be given away throughout the event for cruise-in participants. A 50/50 raffle open to the general public also is planned.
Event organizers hope the themed cruise-ins will encourage more members of the public to get involved, even if they might not have a classic car to enter.
The July 18 cruise-in will have a beach theme and “The 1960s” was picked as the theme for the Aug. 15 event.
“The 1970s” will take center stage at the cruise-in on Sept. 19 and Halloween will be the theme for the final cruise-in of the year on Oct. 17.
Incorporating those themes was suggested as part of a university study to stimulate interest in the cruise-ins while ensuring that the events will remain free for the public, Lowry explained.
Also new for the 2015 season will be the location of registration. In the past, registration, as well as the WSYD broadcasts, has taken place at the corner of Franklin and Main streets. But this year, cruise-in organizers plan to use the new gazebo of Carlos Jones Blue Ridge Park on the corner of Main and Oak Streets for registration. This also will provide a place for attendees to gather and dance.
Cruise-in craze strong
The local cruise-ins draw participants from all over the state, as well as Virginia.
In addition to providing a free activity for locals and visitors to the area to see finely restored vehicles and enjoy some tunes, the cruise-ins allow them to experience downtown Mount Airy in a different light.
Many businesses will remain open late during the events, providing expanded shopping and dining opportunities.
Regardless of the format involved, cruise-ins are fueled by a simple formula that involves nostalgia, Lowry says.
“People are looking for a way to hearken back to a simpler time and more wholesome fun,” she said.
“Younger people are interested (in doing that), too — it’s just not for older people.”
Along with the Downtown Business Association, the Mayberry Cool Cars and Rods Cruise-In series is made possible by Bear Creek Gifts, LSL Auto Sales, Steve Tate and Son Plumbing, Smith Auto Parts, Brannock & Hiatt Furniture, Vanishing Point Rods and Restorations, Mt. Airy Cyclery, Moody Funeral Services and The Mount Airy Visitors Center.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.