Have you been driving around recently on a Friday or Saturday late in the afternoon and noticed all the neat cars around Downtown Salisbury? Well look no further because you have entered into the cruise zone!
Cruising in the Past
Cruising is a phenomenon that started many decades ago after World War II when the car industry took off. There were more car owners, so people wanted to get out and drive more. Cruising is what a lot of teens would do on Friday and Saturday nights to see their friends, show off their cars, look for their current crush, and/or find a new one. It was a way to socialize.
Cruising in the 1950’s was a popular time. In fact, the definition for cruising is “a social activity that primarily consists of driving a car.” Cruising can be an expression of the freedom of possessing a driver’s license and cruise nights are evenings during which cars typically drive slowly up and down a strip or a certain route.
I decided to call my mom, Joanne Flowers, and ask her if she remembered cruising. She was a true teen in the 1950’s so I knew she’d be an expert. She and her girlfriends would drive to one spot and stay about 20 minutes and then drive to another spot for the same amount of time. This type of activity went back and forth all night until they had to be home. She said, “mostly they were probably looking for the boys!” I asked her if she was out late and her response was “no I was probably home by 9:00.” Cruising in the 50’s was a way to get out and see your friends while showing off either your car, your date, or both.
Cruising into the Present
Over the summer months, cruising regained its popularity as many regular summertime events and activities were cancelled due to COVID-19. I endeavored to seek out the driving forces behind the resurgence of cruise-ins in Salisbury. My first step was to reach out to the Facebook page that had been sharing all the event info and that’s how I got in touch with Sue McHugh. Sue was excited to share with me about the cruise-in that is happening in Salisbury. She manages an independent Facebook page called Uptown Salisbury NC where she consistently posts updates about downtown and the cruise-in events. I encourage you to follow the page so you can always be in the loop with what’s happening in Downtown Salisbury!
Sue said, “people are really appreciative of having the opportunity to have something normal in their lives.” Due to the pandemic, a lot of activities have been curtailed in 2020. So, having somewhere to go and socialize with all the protocols in place has been a great outlet. Sue pointed me in the direction of Lenny Melton for more information about the cruise-in community.
After speaking with Lenny Melton, you can’t miss his enthusiasm for what he calls an “organic” cruise-in. Lenny used to be part of the 1980’s cruise-in community when he was in his teens. People then, just like today or in the 1950’s, just wanted to get out of the house and drive their cars. In the 1980’s, according to him, “Salisbury use to have a heavy cruising community.” Lenny recalled when police would run off cruisers and apparently that is something that happened in many places back in the 1980’s.
Cruising into the Future
About 8 weeks ago Lenny decided he wanted to show his sons how he cruised in the 1980’s. Because of the coronavirus, many people just want to get outside and this allowed them to do just that. Lenny spoke with some friends and before you know it people again had something to look forward to on weekends, cruising in Salisbury!
According to Lenny, the majority of people that like to cruise-in are in their 50’s or older. You can see all types of cars coming to Downtown Salisbury. There may be anything there from, “1957 Chevys, to a modern-day Dodge Challenger, to a 1965 Mustang.” Lenny said it was really bringing out some of the young people as well. A few weeks ago, they spotted two teenage girls driving through a couple of times on Main Street in a Model T! Most of the people they see coming out are families. “Grandkids are out helping wash the cars so they can all come downtown together and show off their cars.”
Cruising for Downtown Businesses
Another bonus to having the cruise-in on the weekends are the benefits it brings the downtown business community. Some businesses such as Mean Mug and Spanky’s Homemade Ice Cream & Deli are staying open later to accommodate the extra people in town. Lenny said that people are coming in from other towns as well like Lincolnton, Mocksville, Mt. Holly, Charlotte, and Monroe! Cruising works up an appetite and that can’t be bad for business!
If you want more information about the cruise-in, look no further than Facebook. Their page is called “Salisbury Downtown Draggers & Cruise In Info.” You can find this “organic” group on Friday and Saturday nights starting around 6:00 p.m. and staying around until 9:00 p.m. on Main Street down around the Rowan County Courthouse. The hours may change some with the time change coming and colder weather around the corner, so keep up with them on their Facebook page.
They are also planning to have a “Halloween Spooktacular” on October 31 from 5-until. They are encouraging people to dress up, dress up their rides, and bring candy for the kids… both young and old!
As always you want to remember your cruise-in manners. Obey traffic laws, pick-up trash, watch your kids, and your pets!
Other towns such as Landis and the Town of China Grove also have cruise-ins happening in their downtowns as well, but they have finished for this year. They will be back next year ready to rock the rides.
I think it’s awesome that we are able to get out and enjoy some time away from home! So, clean up your ride and come out to see all the neat cars that will be in Downtown Salisbury on Friday and Saturday nights. I even told Lenny I might clean up my Camry and bring her down for a spin!