A staple in the community for the last quarter century – the Escalon Lions Club Autumn Cruise – is not on the schedule this year.
Normally hosted the second Saturday in September – which this year would have been this weekend, Sept. 14, the cruise served as a major fundraiser for the local Lions Club. They were able to provide thousands of dollars in scholarships through the years and in 2018 marked the silver anniversary of the Autumn Cruise, hosted for the 25th year.
“We just didn’t have the manpower anymore,” said longtime Lions Club member and former chair of the cruise, John Salvin, adding that though the club has plenty of members, it is a lot of work and no one wanted to take over the full responsibility of coordinating the event.
Also, Bud Andrew, who had worked for years on the cruise with Salvin, passed away in late August.
Salvin said the club had the notion that last year would be the final one but they weren’t sure until earlier this year. Normally, they host the Friday night pre-cruise events during the summer at Hula’s and they didn’t do that this year either, he said.
Mike Powers did take over the show last year for the 25th anniversary but Salvin said it is an enormous job, as Powers soon learned.
“It just got to be overwhelming,” admitted Salvin.
The Friday night events drew dozens of cars while the Autumn Cruise itself would typically see well over 200 classic cars and hot rods motor in to the community. Main Street Park and part of Main Street were shut down for the event.
And though it won’t be staged in the city this coming Saturday, Salvin said the club isn’t closing the door completely.
“It may come back at some time in the future, but to a much lesser extent,” said Salvin.
The club is also proud of the amount of money raised, with scholarships given out in the past to graduating Escalon High School seniors and some Miss Escalon contestants as well.
Salvin estimates that the club provided roughly $250,000 in scholarships during the course of the cruise.
“For now, we’re just setting the show by the wayside,” he explained.
There has been some interest from the Modesto-based Throttlers and Pharoahs car clubs and there could be some coordinating for a new show among the three groups in the future, though that is still under consideration.
The local Lions Club is, however, gearing up for its next big event; they will host a Beer Booth at the upcoming Escalon Scottish Games, scheduled at the Hogan-Ennis Park on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 12 and 13. Money raised there will help provide this year’s scholarships, said Salvin.
“It was a good run,” he added of the Autumn Cruise event. “Twenty-five years is a long time.”