You know that thing where you travel thousands of miles for an event, like it some kind of pilgrimage? How when you get close you start to see other travellers on their way to the event, other signs of activity, which shows you are in the right place? How as you enter the event a tingle runs down your spine, you've finally made it? Then you have this amazing evening where everything goes perfectly, better than perfectly, until you are on your way home to dream of returning again... This isn't that story.
This is the story of what happens when ten minutes into your attendance at your pilgrimage the sky opens up in biblical proportions and rains hellfire and damnation on all unlucky enough to be stuck below. It is also the story of dedication, a lunatic bunch of people keeping a tradition alive and cool, cool cars.
But first, a little background.
19 years ago the Kissimmee, Old Town cruise started up, it consists of a range of cars from stock classics to hot rods and street rods. All the cars are pre 1974 and a reasonable wedge are pre war. The website tells us
that on average 325 cars cruise every Saturday night, making it the largest weekly car cruise in America. The whole area around the cruise seem geared towards it, bars and eateries have car memorabilia, old signs and the likes on the walls. Gift shops seems stocked with just the right kind of car related tourist items. The area of Old Town has really embraced and supported the Saturday night cruise, so much so they have added a Friday night one as well for a different range of vehicles.
You can see an example of what goes on in this great little video :
The omens for our particular visit to the cruise were not great to be honest. It seemed that Florida had forgotten that it was May and suppose to be sunny, instead storms were sweeping through on a daily basis, not the usual 4pm half hour storms you get in the summer, oh no, more end of the world revelations type storms with black skies and rolling thunder that lasted hours in the middle of the day.
However, Saturday came and was dry all day, so we headed to Old Town for about 7pm just in time for the band to start playing on the stage. Walking into the street where everyone parks up before the cruise was a fantastic moment. Literally fantastic, like walking into someone else’s film set. Full house rods, sat next to big muscles cars, which in turn were parked next to VW campers and Beetles. All in exactly the sort of eclectic mix I'd come to see. Out came the camera and down the street I headed, absorbing the music and the car guys hanging out, just feeling like a part of the scene. A tourist, miles from my real home, but completely comfortable, these are our people.
That lasted nearly half the length of the first street, then this happened :
Enough rain fell for such a sustained period of time that they nearly cancelled the cruise. This was unprecedented, through hurricanes and sewage drain malfunction the cruise carried on. The car guys were here to cruise and cruise is what they do. The DJ that had replaced the band kept spirits up with a suitable selection of rain themed music, 'riders on the storm' being particularly apt. The tannoy announced that any cars that were left would be cruising, given the hour and a half or so of torrential rain we'd had many had gone. I got the feeling even if two cars were left they would have cruised, just to keep the tradition alive, dedication. As it was forty or fifty cars were left to cruise and give the diehards that had stuck out the rain something to photograph and enjoy.
Standing in a bar, in Florida, eating a burger, watching cool cars and enjoying peoples company, that is what its all about. The rains dampened the roads and cars, but not the spirit or dedication.
I'd certainly like to head back on a dryer evening and to take in the Friday night cruise. If you find yourself in Florida, doing the Disney thing, suggest a trip to Old Town in Kissimmee on a Saturday evening, it has a fun fair, it sounds innocent enough to those in the family that may not understand our obsession with cars... Once you get there you'll be too distracted to notice any complaints.
In addition to learning that buying a rain poncho from Seaworld is a great idea, I also learned that Lucas car polish
is pretty good from the guy that owned this beauty :