CHANDLER — Charleen Walston wandered among an assortment of cars, trucks and motorcycles, many of them classics, exhibited during this month’s cruise night.
“They have a very nice selection here,” Mrs. Walston said. “My husband likes to look at the old cars; so do I.”
Darrel Gregory, of Whitehouse, who said he was born and raised around hot rods, agreed, “It’s a nice show,” and said, “I like the wide variety.” The attraction of old cars, he said, is “in the blood.”
Chandler is one of several places in East Texas where cruise night is a growing popular recreational entertainment event.
The fun is in the looking, inspecting the different vehicles, visiting with the owners and mingling among the crowd.
Besides Chandler, towns where Cruise Nights are conducted regularly include New Chapel Hill, Longview, Lindale, Quitman, Athens, Marshall, Corsicana, Edom and Jacksonville.
From 5 to 8 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month is “Cruise Night” in Chandler when children and adults flock in and look at the vehicles.
For three or four years, Chandler Chamber of Commerce has sponsored Cruise Night at a business and will expand this year to also stage a car show on July 7 at Winchester Park.
“The whole idea is to have other activities for citizens of Chandler to have somewhere to go and have fun and to bring people to the city,” said John Camper, president of the Chandler Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber hired R.G. Car Show Productions of Tyler to help stage Chandler’s monthly cruise night and the car show on July 7. Cruise night and the car show are two different kinds of attractions, chamber officials said.
Pete Wallace of Van, who displayed his 1966 Mustang, said he enjoys the people at cruise night.
Cruise Night attracted 44 vehicles in April when it kicked off this year’s series and the crowd swelled.
It’s never been of the magnitude as it is this year, said Kenny Rascoe, chairman of the chamber’s car show committee.
There’s no limit on the kind of vehicles displayed on Cruise Night, Rascoe said. “It can be any age car, truck, motorcycle or anything you can drive up here,” he said.
One car that was displayed looks like a hearse while another entry was a 1952 Corvette, Kelli Krieg, a member of the chamber’s car show committee, said with a grin.
“We had the most cars we’ve ever had; it was awesome,” she added, estimating the crowd at about 200.
How someone’s personal vision shows in how they customize their car is also “neat” to see, Rascoe said, calling it a personality thing reflected in the way their car looks.
Hugh Speer, of Flint, displayed a 1954 Chevrolet Belair that he found in a pasture, restored and brought “back to life” after it sat in the pasture 31 years.
Rascoe said, “There’s not a lot of activities in Chandler; that’s something we’re trying to change. We are trying to make more fun activities for people to do in Chandler.”
Cruise Night is fun for parents and kids; it’s not just for parents and not just for kids, Ms. Krieg said. “I think every small town needs something like that even if it’s just once a month. It needs to be fun for the whole family.”
Spectators can buy tickets on a 50/50 pot. That means at the end of Cruise Night, a ticket is drawn. Half of whatever money was collected on sale of the tickets goes to the person whose ticket is drawn and the other half goes to the chamber to cover its expenses in staging Cruise Night, such as paying off-duty police officers to be at the event, Rascoe said.
Chandler Police Department’s Explorers, an organization for young people aged 14 to 20 interested in learning about law enforcement, assist with directing traffic on some Cruise Nights.
The business community gets involved by donating door prizes, such as oil changes, tire rotations and gas cards.
The new car show that the chamber will sponsor 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 7 at Winchester Park will be a bigger event than the monthly Cruise Night displays. It will benefit the activities of the Chandler chamber.
It will not only feature cars, trucks and motorcycles but vendor booths for food and crafts, bounce houses, a train for kids and other attractions as well as a raffle and several awards.
The show is expected to attract from long distances mustang clubs, corvette clubs and people in recreation vehicles. Although it will be free to the public, there will be a $25 entry fee for people showing cars.
Like Cruise Nights, the car show will have a family atmosphere and be family oriented, Rascoe said.