It won’t be the end of an era, but Saturday will mark the final cruise-in scheduled on that particular day in downtown Mount Airy for the foreseeable future.
“The next two will be on Sunday,” Downtown Business Association President Phil Marsh said Thursday in discussing the latest entry in the Mayberry Cool Cars and Rods Cruise-In season spearheaded by that organization and plans for the rest of the year.
Normally, the events are held on the third Saturday of each month from June to October, but COVID-related and other factors have conspired to alter that schedule this year — after the cruise-in season was cancelled altogether in 2020 by the pandemic.
The Saturday schedule was in place for June and July and will be for a final occasion this coming Saturday — with an official start time of 4 p.m. — before shifting gears for the remainder of 2021.
“There won’t be any in September because of there being so many events,” Marsh said of a busy month planned then locally.
After that, the cruise-ins series is scheduled to resume in October, but on a Sunday — Oct. 17 — and conclude the year with another Sunday event on Nov. 14. The times for both are 1 to 5 p.m.
COVID-19 complicated the situation by derailing many activities both in 2020 and earlier this year and leading to rescheduling farther down the road, which filled the calendar on certain days. Organizers have sought to avoid situations such as three events being held in a row on a Saturday, Marsh said.
Although no cruise-in will occur next month, another automotive-oriented gathering is planned then, the Mount Airy Moonshine and Racers’ Reunion on Sept. 11.
Worries accompany change
As the Mayberry Cool Cars and Rods Cruise-In series has progressed over the years, after being launched in 2010, the numbers of muscle cars and other unique vehicles infiltrating the central business district have grown tremendously along with spectators attending.
The participating vehicles, sometimes numbering in the hundreds, are parked all along North Main Street and side streets, which reduces North Main to one lane of travel for others who prefer to cruise around. There has been some concern among the downtown business community about the resulting loss of parking spaces for customers.
Based on previous reports, moving the October and November cruise-ins to Sunday represented a compromise situation. Many downtown businesses are closed on the Sabbath.
The Mayberry Cool Cars and Rods Cruise-In series will be exploring new territory with the Sunday events planned for October and November, and organizers are wondering about the effects.
“I don’t know,” Marsh said Thursday. “I’m a little bit worried about that.”
The Downtown Business Association president mainly is concerned about the attendees who increasingly have been visiting from faraway places as the local cruise-ins’ popularity have gained momentum.
“We’ve had a lot of people coming to stay the weekend,” Marsh said, who patronize local lodging establishments on Fridays and Saturdays before returning home on Sunday.
While this might reduce tourism-related revenues, he is hoping for the best.
“We just want everybody to come and enjoy themselves.”
Marsh is hoping for a return to the Saturday schedule in 2022. “That’s the plan.”