Classic car aficionados are in luck once again over Father’s Day weekend. The 2017 Historic Bellefonte Cruise promises hundreds of vintage automobiles, a sock hop, soapbox derby and plenty of fun for the entire family.
Pat McCool has acted as the event’s chairman for seven years, and sums it up as “a lot of cars and a lot of fun.”
The weekend kicks off Friday night with an open cruise, 6-7:30 p.m. “Basically, everybody comes in and laps the block,” said McCool, who called it a parade-like atmosphere.
Then, Allegheny Street is shut down for a sock hop and marketplace on the courthouse lawn.
“People gather in the street and we have a dance there. (It’s) a lot of fun. We have a lot of giveaways that we toss out into the crowd — pretty much everything we can do for everyone to have a good time. This year we have a Beach Boys tribute band coming in.”
The sock hop closes down at 10:30 p.m., as McCool and his crew have an early morning ahead of them. Registration for the Saturday car show starts at 7 a.m., lasting through noon, with judging commencing early in the morning and extending throughout the day. More than a dozen professional judges come from Virginia for the event, and give out awards for first, second and third places, as well as best of show in both cars and motorcycles.
“In the meantime, we also have Johnny Gems and the Red Hot Bananas playing onstage from approximately 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. At that time we do our Kids Class judging. We’ll be giving away a battery-operated car to one of our Kids Class participants this year,” McCool said. “That’s compliments of Pizza Mia. Immediately following that, we’ll be giving away a 2007 Pontiac hardtop convertible donated by Douty Chalfa Automotive.” Signing up for a chance to win the prize is free for all visitors, and entries are accepted Friday night through Saturday afternoon.
The weekend wraps up with a soapbox derby race on Allegheny Street, from Howard to Curtin street, from noon-5 p.m. Sunday.
McCool says he expects about 10,000 people on Friday night, and as many as 15,000 on Saturday. The types of visitors — whether spectator or showman — vary, with some traveling from as far away as Florida to attend.
“You see the young people, the older people like to come in and enjoy the nostalgia of the cars,” McCool said. “It’s all walks of life. ... You’ll see cars that are basically somebody’s street driver every day, and then you’ll see what you call the trailer queen, where the guy keeps it in the trailer and takes it from car show to car show. It’s probably one of the most diverse shows out there, and it’s actually the largest here in central Pennsylvania, by far.”
Even though the show is expected to be a great success, McCool hardly has time to rest on his laurels, with plans already underway for next year’s Bellefonte Cruise. He stresses, though, that the cruise coordination and planning is very much a team effort, with a variety of committees for almost every aspect of the event.
“It’s always a struggle to make the show more interesting each year, but they tell us we’ve been successful,” McCool said. “One of the biggest things I like to emphasize is that it’s a committee. There’s about 15 of us who meet every month, all yearlong, preparing for this, and that’s what brings it along. I’m more or less just the guy in the driver’s seat.
“Our whole goal is just to put on a good show and make sure that everybody has an enjoyable time.”
For those interested in attending, don’t be scared off by the crowds, or the daunting task of parking near downtown Bellefonte during such a large influx of visitors. The high school and middle school parking lots are available, and a shuttle will be running back and forth between them and the event on Saturday. Handicap parking is also available on the corner of Howard and Spring streets.
IF YOU GO
- What: Bellefonte Cruise
- When: Friday-Sunday
- Where: Allegheny Street, Bellefonte
- Info: bellefontecruise.org