The “Hot Nights and Hot Cars” summer cruise-in series will draw to a close for this year on Saturday, leaving the sponsoring Mount Pilot NOW group to turn their attentions toward preparing for next spring.
Expectations remain high for the season’s final event as the featured band, North Tower, will be performing on the Depot Street or “Gasoline Alley” stage. Performances are scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. Lawn chairs are recommended for listening comfort, and listeners are welcomed to show off their best steps on the dance floor.
Originally formed in 1975 as an a cappella vocal quartet composed of students then attending the UNC Chapel Hill, North Tower takes its name from a well-known campus location. Over the years the group has seen a transition of members and an evolution of styles on its way to becoming a top band on the beach music circuit. It has seen success in the recording studio and has been honored at the Beach Music Awards.
Today, the band combines high-energy brass with professional vocals to provide a mix of oldies, beach favorites, top 40 classics and funk.
As always, owners of antique, classic, street rod, pro-street and muscle cars are invited to bring their vehicles downtown to either cruise Main Street or park in designated display areas.
To ease parking congestion for spectators, a courtesy “park and ride” shuttle bus service will again be offered with stops at specified downtown locations every 20-25 minutes. A bus will be carrying attendees from the two Key Street PART park-and-ride lots to the downtown area and returning them to their cars. The #1 lot is located behind PNC Bank while the #2 lot is beside Surrey Bank & Trust.
Organizers will also be testing at least one possible change as no winery will be featured. Wines will instead give way to featured craft beers.
“This is a trial run as we look at some ideas for next year,” explained Jerry Venable, Mount Pilot NOW chairman. “We’ve seen a drop in the number of cars we’ve had recently, and we’re just considering some new things.”
One major change from recent years is the absence of a “Race Car Friday Night” event, usually timed to immediately precede the season’s final cruise-in. This year’s Friday night closed-street event has been canceled.
“We just couldn’t justify closing Main Street for 50-60 cars,” Venable explained.
But he also hinted the event may return in the future.
In reviewing the season, Venable noted a decline in the number of cars visiting the downtown area for cruise-in events. He pointed to rains and overcast skies for several events as a contributing factor while also noting an abundance of similar events showing up throughout the region.
“We’ve seen some duplication of our shows,” he noted, “but we take that as a compliment. It means we’ve been doing something right.”
“But we’ve added a couple of new board members, and that should help us in planning for next year,” he continued. “They’re car guys who are really interested in what we can do differently and do better. We’re going to be offering some new things, including some prizes. Our mission has always been to bring people to Pilot Mountain to visit, to have a good time, and to spend some money while they’re here.”