First Cruise

Months of early morning meetings and late night brainstorming sessions culminated this past weekend at the Last Cruise. My role on the volunteer committee was to design publicity materials and coordinate promotional events. It was creatively-challenging and incredibly rewarding! All proceeds of the weekend’s events were passed directly to the Centre County Youth Services Bureau, which serves important community initiatives such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Stepping Stone.

Years ago, I gathered with my high school girlfriends in the parking lot of the Wendy’s on Route 74 for frostys and classic cruisers. We watched the streetlights dance across the polished hoods of the street rods as they revved their engines and filled the air with exhaust smoke. It was like a scene from Grease sans John Travolta and black leather leggings. But we never considered the events leading up to this display. The afternoon car show where owners gathered to boast their patent interiors and chrome exteriors. To compete for trophies and bragging rights.

Well, this Last Cruise was my first. My initiation into the car show club. And what a diverse group! From teenagers in ball caps with souped-up Subarus to accomplished businessmen with circa 1960s Mustangs and Corvettes. But all had one thing in common … An obsession with cars. No matter the make or model, the pride of the owners was obvious. I saw several pull dusting rags or bottles of polish from their back pockets for quick touch-ups. The cars were in pristine condition. And, although not a car gal myself, I was quite impressed. I strolled past lines of red, blue, and yellow popped hoods and peeked inside at dashboards and steering wheels. I might not share the obsession, but I can surely appreciate the dedication.

Other noteworthy events …

Car stereo competition: Again, the participants varied in appearance and age from a 20-something in a muscle car to a middle-ager in a white utility van. There are two components to the competition: sound pressure level and sound quality. Each entrant pulls his or her (I did see one girl with streaky blond hair wearing a ruffled jean mini skirt) car to the judging tent where a volunteer places a measuring device just inside the passenger door. The instrument is precisely positioned to ensure fairness, I was told. The owner must get out of the vehicle (because the noise is enough to blow out eardrums!) and he/she may ask a friend or two to secure the doors and windows (because they may also blow out!). Then the owner cranks the volume and waits for the score. Apparently anything above 140 is good. I heard a 147.9. Sounded like a jet engine.

Motorcycle games: I gotta admit that this was my favorite part of the day. Purely for its entertainment value. Now, I grew up in Harely’s home of York PA, so I’ve seen my share of bikers, but it’s impossible to properly observe when they whiz by on the highway. Occasionally, I steal a glance while seated at a stop light. But nothing like the up close and personal view I got on Saturday. They really are a unique bunch. Bikers. Muscle shirts, red bandannas, steel-toe boots. One man wore nothing but snug Levi’s, and his biker babe wore cut-off Levi’s and sported a female mullet. The “slow race” was the best. Watching the big brawny men maneuver their extra-large Harleys between the chalk-drawn lines. A new concept for them I’m sure … Slowest racer wins.

All in all, an enjoyable afternoon that concluded with a best of class display in downtown State College. Local teens gathered on the curb to watch the classic crusiers drive the circuit, though I wonder if they considered the show that occurred earlier that day. Glad to have been part of it.

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