Cool night, hot cars
A few thousand people took advantage of the break in warm and rainy weather Saturday night to view a wide display of vehicles in downtown Morris.
Makes and models of all sorts could be seen at the September Morris Cruise Night. Early into the night, Cruise Night Founder Herb Wyeth said it was going strong. By the time it had officially opened, 10 minutes into the evening, more than 710 vehicles had already parked.
"It's been an awesome night," he said, crediting the sunny, 70-degree temperatures for bringing the crowds. "The weather's been amazing — we've been blessed with the weather (this year.)"
Wyeth said the strong showing Saturday followed a large turnout at the August event, which brought in 828 vehicles. He estimated that the 2012 Cruise Night season will average well over 700 vehicles per night, and also said about 6,000 to 8,000 people were expected to come out to view the vehicles Saturday.
"This year, we'll break all records," he said.
Wyeth's wife Deb said it's a fun event to be involved with.
"It's so entertaining," she said. "You never know who's coming."
The two spoke of the event's family-friendly environment, which, along with the cars, attracted a Manhattan man and his family. Sam Allie could be found with his 3-year-old granddaughter, Lucy Allie, on his shoulders, checking out a row of Corvettes.
He said they were enjoying the evening.
"I think it's great. There's a lot of cars from all over," he said.
He said he and Lucy had been walking down the rows, looking for her favorite car.
"She hasn't found it yet," he said.
Tim and Rosie Radigan of Morris could be spotted peeking into a red 1934 Chevy Coupe parked along Liberty Street.
The two have a truck they occasionally show, but were at the event as spectators this time. Tim said the two usually pick a side of downtown and work their way through the displays.
"There's a good turnout tonight, and, of course, Morris has great people," he said. "We enjoy it."
In addition to seeing the cars and trucks, Rosie said the atmosphere is fun.
"I like the smell of food," she joked, as a group was grilling hamburgers nearby. "And the music — it takes you back."
Car owner Rick Wilson of Shorewood brought his 1977 Chevy Corvette to the Cruise Night. He is a regular at the event
"It's a lot of cars, a lot of nice people," he said. "It's always a good show."
He's had his Corvette, which is a shade known as Corvette Orange, since he bought it in the 70s. Over the years, he's kept it maintained well, and while he doesn't drive it a lot, he enjoys bringing it to different shows.
"It's just a fun car to drive," he said. "It's a good-looking car."
Further south on Liberty Street, Coal City resident Ron Henke was enjoying a hot dog dinner next to his jade green 1978 Ford LTD II. He said so far this year, he's been to each of the Cruise Nights. He enjoys showing off his car, which he bought new, as well as seeing who else comes out.
"I like to see the different models that show up," he said, adding he also likes to talk with others who stop by.
He said the scarcity of his vehicle is what makes it unique to him.
"Basically, it's almost one of a kind," he said. "You just don't find them.
In addition to providing entertainment, Herb said September's Cruise Night benefited the Grundy County Special Education Cooperative's R.E.A.C.H., or Realizing Educational and Career Hopes, organization. R.E.A.C.H. volunteers dispersed throughout the event to sell raffle tickets.
While he credited the weather for bringing in the crowds, he also gave credit for those who made the Cruise Night possible — many volunteers.
"I want to complement my committee," he said. "They work really hard — it's a lot of work."