Blast from the Past Draws Crowds of All Ages
Where can you find your ultimate dream car while you listen to the cool tunes of yesterday, take in a little shopping and grab some great food? Parkville Cruise Nights, of course!
Now in it’s seventh year, the popular Parkville event continues to draw large crowds.
“At cruise nights, there are no rules, no judging, and no fees to attend. You just show up, park next to your friends, maybe grab some dinner, and talk to people you my not get to see all that often,” says Glen McKahan, a longtime resident of Parkville and co-founder of the event.
McKahan, the owner of Glen’s Automotive Service in Parkville, provided direction from the start to help market, implement, and grow Cruise Nights, says Danelle Nichols, executive director of the Main Street Parkville Association. “The event’s been very successful and brings several hundred visitors a month to Parkville. It’s definitely good for the community.”
McKahan says she just offered advice.
“Danelle wanted to start a cruise night, so she enlisted my help," she says. "I gathered 10 or 11 guys and talked about what we’d like it to be. These were all guys who collected cars or worked on them and would participate. The idea was approved and it’s been going ever since.”
“At our first Cruise Night in 2008, we had about 100 cars on display,” recalls Glen. “We ended up later that year with about 300 cars and hundreds more participants who came just to check out the cars. These days, we usually average about 250 cars at an event, but we’ve had a few with as many as 400 different vehicles. We draw car collectors and interested observers from all over the area.”
McKahan attributes part of Parkville Cruise Night’s popularity to the fact it offers something for the whole family. “There’s a lot to do in Parkville for those who don’t want to hang out and talk about cars. There are local restaurants, the playground at English Landing Park, the walking trail by the river and of course, all the stores in downtown Parkville. There’s a lot of shopping to be done. Everyone’s happy!”
“Cruise night is a great event," continues McKahan. “You’ll see restored cars, old coupes and sedans, roadsters, custom and modified pick ups and even an occasional tractor. It’s a little bit of the best of everything. It’s one place you’ll see people from eight to 80, CEOs, lawyers, doctors and ironworkers side by side, all brought together by their common fascination with cars.”
McKahan has rebuilt countless cars during his lifetime, including his current collection of a 66 Chevelle-SS396, a 1963 split window Corvette, a 1967 pro street Nova, as well as a 1933 Chevy Mercury sedan, rare because it was only manufactured for half a year.
Why these cars?
“First of all, I’ve always liked '66 and '67 Chevelles. I bought my ’66 Chevelle to save it from being turned into a hot rod. I’m only the second owner of this car that’s nearly 50 years old. I may be partial to the year 1966 because that’s when I got my drivers’ license. As for the’63 Corvette, I bought it because it’s unique. 1963 was the only year they made this particular car with a split rear window. It’s extremely rare; I see it as an excellent investment.”
What’s the allure of Cruise Night? “It’s the nostalgia of the whole thing," says Lee Pedego, who’s visited Parkville Cruise night in his 1982 Studebaker Avanti ll. “I see every car I wanted and couldn’t have when I was a kid at Cruise Nights. People collect either what they had or what they wanted. At Cruise Night, you see the best of both.”
Many, if not most of these classic autos have personal stories attached. Scott McRuer’s 1967 Chevy Malibu is also the first car he owned in high school. “My car is older than many of the clients I serve,” chuckles McRuer, managing member at McRuer CPAs.
“When my dad was living, we were going to rebuild the Malibu together. I think he figured out how much it was going to cost and let the idea pass. After he was gone, I decided to go ahead and get it restored. It’s a car I’ll have the rest of my life. I figure it’s a good investment, besides, it brings back a lot of good memories.”
McRuer, a sponsor and participant of cruise nights, says he participates in the event because it’s a great way to stay connected to Parkville. “Cruise Night is good for the city. Even though there are a lot of regulars, for some people, it’s their first visit to Parkville. They discover how great our community is by accident and chances are, they’ll want to return. It’s good for them and good for Parkville.
Parkville Cruise Night always has interesting old Chevys and old Corvettes and an occasional Model T. I’ve seen a ‘53 Buick Skylark Convertible and even an original Shelby Cobra down there; it doesn’t get much better than that.”
The Cobra McRuer references is a rare Rangoon red 1964 AC Cobra 289 Roadster owned by Jim Sfetko. Sfetko has owned the car for 29 years. He says it’s the second one he’s owned. “I owned my first one in the mid-70s,” he recalls. “I sold it and had buyer’s remorse. It took me a long time to find this one in San Antonio. The Shelby I originally had has been owned since 1979 by Patrick Shelby, the son of Carroll Shelby, the creator of the Shelby Cobra.
In my opinion, the Cobra embodies everything; it’s rare, it’s exotic and it’s very fast. It’s the only American car that ever beat a Ferrari in an international race. It has all the exotics of the rare Ferraris and Maseratis, but it’s a still a Ford powered car and can be serviced easily.”
Sfetko says he takes his car down to Parkville Cruise Nights as often as he can. “It’s a great venue to show up with your car and trade stories with other car owners. It’s all about showing off what we’ve done, what we have, and enjoying the camaraderie of others with similar interests.”
Promoted by the Main Street Parkville Association, Parkville Cruise Nights occur the first Saturday of each month (April thru September with the exception of July), 4 – 8 p.m. in Historic Downtown Parkville Farmers Market and city parking lots.