Downtown Mount Airy will be a showcase for horsepower, chrome and gleaming paint jobs this Saturday when an annual cruise-in series gears up once again.
The Mayberry Cool Cars and Rods Cruise-In events, which began in 2010, are held every June through October on the third Saturday of each month, from 4 to 8 p.m.
Under the series format, muscle cars, vintage automobiles and other unique vehicles typically are parked along both sides of North Main Street and side streets in a manner that allows one lane of travel for cruising through the downtown area. Meanwhile, attendees can take a casual stroll through that venue and get an up-close view of fine examples of America’s automotive history in a festival-type atmosphere.
The cars displayed, along with the crowds attending the free cruise-ins offering music and other attractions, are growing with each passing year, including record numbers reached in 2017 when up to 600 vehicles a day were part of the monthly series.
That led Phil Marsh, the president of the organization spearheading the events, the Downtown Business Association (DBA), to declare last year’s cruise-in slate the most successful ever here.
“A lot of it is just the nostalgia,” Brack Llewellyn, emcee for the gatherings, said of the reasons for the growing popularity of the five-month series, especially among certain generations of auto enthusiasts.
“These cars are just a huge part of our younger days,” Llewellyn added Wednesday. “We may not have owned one of these muscle cars — but we certainly admired them.”
All makes and models are welcome at the event.
Other factors also are responsible for the cruise-ins’ success.
“Part of it is an effort on the part of the DBA,” Llewellyn said, “just hard work by Phil and others.”
They market the Mayberry Cool Cars and Rods Cruise-In series far and wide.
“He (Marsh) tries to welcome everybody that he can,” Llewellyn said of how the DBA president reaches out to car clubs and owners around the region.
The result is an event that draws participants from all over the state, as well as Virginia, providing a free activity for locals and visitors to the area.
Music and more
The June edition of the 2018 Mayberry Cool Cars and Rods Cruise-Ins on Saturday will feature classic tunes courtesy of local AM radio station WSYD (1300), with Llewellyn handling announcing duties.
“If anybody has a song request, we’ll take them,” he said.
This year, cruise-in organizers again plan to utilize the Carlos Jones Gazebo at the corner of North Main and West Oak streets as a focal point. It will provide a gathering place as well as space for dancing, with those attending the cruise-ins urged to bring their dancing shoes.
Door prizes will be given away throughout the event for cruise-in participants, and a 50/50 raffle also will take place which is open to the general public.
Many downtown businesses will stay open late during the cruise-in, organizers say.
Rewards for owners
In addition to the entertainment provided for the crowds attending, the Mount Airy cruise-ins provide a rallying spot for owners of unique autos to gather with like-minded individuals who represent a form of what Llewellyn calls “specialized collecting.”
“You take the time to restore a vehicle and you want to show it off,” he said regarding owners’ point of view.
The cruise-ins provide a low-key opportunity for automotive enthusiasts to circulate among those displaying vehicles and hear their stories, Llewellyn said.
“And the drivers? All you have to do is ask them.”
Apart from having their cars admired by the public, owners can benefit in other ways.
They are encouraged to register their vehicles at the gazebo, with plaques to be awarded during each of the monthly events for “Cool Ride of the Month” and “Ladies Choice.”
An award ceremony will take place shortly before 8 p.m. at the gazebo.
The Mayberry Cool Cars and Rods Cruise-Ins are sponsored by Scenic Motors, Sowers Construction, Mayberry Metal Structures, Farm Bureau, Ultimate Towing & Recovery, Vanishing Point Rods & Restorations, Jeff’s Paint & Body Shop, downtown merchants and Mount Airy Visitors Center.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.