September 13, 2023 at 7:20 a.m.

2023 Proves Record-Breaking Season for Cruise-in

By JENN GUTHRIE | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

It’s official – the 2023 First Friday’s Cruise-in to Hope Season was a record-breaker.

Reflecting on the season, organizers are thrilled about the event’s overall success and are looking forward to 2024, says Jason Eckart, Hope Town Manager.

“We had a blast,” he says. “It was such a fun season this year; We really seemed to have it pretty well organized.”

The season included a well-blended mix of old and new, sporty, exotic and classic. In addition to the event’s regular participants, each show welcomed an additional 20 or so individuals who were new to the event, Eckart says.

And the season culminated in the biggest showing ever over Labor Day weekend, Eckart says.

“We had our busiest night ever with 108 cars registered,” Eckart says. “That is the kind of number I have always strived for – 100 cars. We came close a lot of times this year, but the last event put us over the edge and that made it really fun.”

With gratitude to all the vendors, musicians and bands who came out to make each event complete, Eckart says the 2023 season ended with a grand total of $5,140 raised for local nonprofits.

“All that money went to the local community,” he says. “It feels good to donate that kind of money to our local charities.”

As organizers look ahead to the 2024 season, there will likely be a few adjustments to better fine-tune the event, Eckart says.

Participants who register in next year’s cruise-ins can look forward to the introduction of dash plaques to commemorate their experience, Eckart says. There may also be additional sponsorship for a potential fourth winner category that is yet to be determined.

And the season may go a bit further into fall with another cruise-in possibly scheduled for October. The only caveat to potentially adding another night in October would be the shortened hours of daylight, Eckart says.

“We have some people who do not like to drive their pricey hot rods in the dark, which I understand,” he says. “We are constantly trying to refine the event, so it is easier for people to park and get in and out of. We are going to continue it next year and are excited for it, as well.”

Since taking on the position of Town Manager, Eckart says he couldn’t be happier with how the cruise-in event has evolved under his leadership. As many visitors come to check out the live entertainment and peruse the classic and sleek rides, Eckart says the audience continues to expand as individuals from more local and regional areas consistently make the monthly trip to the Hope Town Square.

“We always envisioned it as trying to bond the town with the event and I think I’ve gotten a lot of good response by the locals here, as well as the cruise-in drivers who bring their cars,” Eckart says. “They love coming to Hope and enjoy walking around the Town Square. It is a win-win for the town.”