Santa Paula Times

The first Friday in April debut of the 14th season of Cruise Nite brought hundreds of people to the downtown, drawn by a rainbow-colored display of vintage vehicles, lively restaurants and livelier music. (Photo by Brian D. Wilson)

Cruise Nite: 14th season debut brings car-loving crowd downtown

April 18, 2012
Santa Paula News

The first Friday in April debut of the 14th season of Cruise Nite brought hundreds of people to the downtown, drawn by a rainbow-colored display of vintage vehicles, lively restaurants and livelier music combining for a strong dose of socialization. 

Cruise Nite is the most famous car show in the Tri-Counties, bringing visitors and car owners alike from throughout the region as well as Los Angeles County. It’s easy to see why: even from a block away flashes of color fill East Main Street from 10th to 7th streets from cars parked along the main drag as well as those displayed on side streets: an orange Dodge with purple flames, candy apple red Chevrolet wagon, bright yellow Firebird, all pre-1975 models of automobiles lined up sporting colors suitable for an Easter display and noting the spring. 

And of course the debut of Cruise Nite had perfect Santa Paula weather, bringing even more people to the downtown for the first show of the season. Johnny Procter & The Love Handles played music for the crowd that ebbed and swelled north, south, east and west.

Janice and Bruce Dickenson said they had missed the monthly event (which runs April to October), especially, said Bruce, as Cruise Nite means “spring is coming.”

Sharon Robinson was celebrating her birthday and her husband Fred Robinson, a Santa Paula City Councilman, said he told her “I’ll take you out wherever you want to go... and she said Cruise Nite!”

“Daddy, look at that hot rod!” a little girl of about 5 told her father as she tugged him along toward a red Ford coupe decked out for a night of road racing.  

“I’ve been looking forward to this,” said Judy Harpster. “Everyone loves Cruise Nite.”

“We’re here for another seven months,” said Dave Anderson, who with Henry Aguilar coordinates the Santa Paula Police Officers Association/Chamber of Commerce sponsored event. “It’s really great to get the cars out... and this is a big social event where you get to see people you haven’t seen in a while.”

There was a lot of that going on, Anderson conceded. “Yes, we do have a good turnout of people... people have been cooped up and they can get out and get their cars out,” coupes and otherwise.

Former Mayor Mary Ann Krause was using Cruise Nite also as a way to check out a new Main Street business and catch up with others enjoying the perfect weather. “It’s Friday, people are in a good mood and they find commonality over a vehicle” with rearview mirror dice and foxtails often being conversation starters.

Santa Paula Police Explorer Ernie Cardoza said what makes Cruise Nite especially enjoyable duty is “the cars and all the people, it’s a different atmosphere from all the events we work.” He was accompanied by Explorers Karla Llamas ad Maria Ramirez, both eight-month program veterans looking forward to attending the academy. 

Santa Paula Health & Fitness had Zumba dancers showing “I’m Sexy and I Know It,” with spinners in the last row keeping up with all the moves. 

A diamond blue Impala convertible and deep burgundy 1932 Chevy coupe were admired, as was a vintage Mack fire engine replete with the bulldog hood ornament. A bright aqua-shaded green VW had a sign that proudly proclaimed “My Bug Toodles,” while a Dodge Charger painted a distinctive orange and black had a tiny toy version of itself sitting the dashboard sporting identical colors. 

SPPD Reserve Sgt./Explorers Assistant Coordinator Dave Curran said, “The troops are doing extremely well and we’ve got this place covered” and being enjoyed by numerous SPPD officers, reserve and technical reserve officers, Explorers, and members of Citizens Patrol.

Jim Carr of Oxnard was on hand with his ‘57 Bel Air with “Elvis” and his equally life-size date in the front seat, much like the display he provided for the 2011 Moonlight at the Ranch V: Shake, Rattle & Roll celebration of the 1950s. Carr said if not traveling he would be attending each Cruise Nite and bringing Elvis, who when activated nods his head and says a few words.

The next Cruise Nite, which features all pre-1975 vehicles, will be held May 4. Hours are from about 5:30 p.m. to dark.