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Pre-Cruise Fridays Precursor To September Show
The cars still cruise in ... and the stories still unfold every Friday night in the Escalon Center parking lot, with classics filling up plenty of parking spaces in the lot along Jackson Avenue on the east end of town. The Friday evening shows are 'pre-cruise' events, leading up to the annual Escalon Lions Club Autumn Cruise, set this year for Saturday, Sept. 11.

"It was a little hot this week but it's still going pretty good," said Cruise coordinator and Lions Club member John Salvin of Escalon. "We have a nice little venue and we give a couple, three plaques out every week, I think people like that."

There are also a number of restaurants in the complex so those attending the pre-cruise can satisfy their cravings with diner food, Chinese or pizza.

"We just competed with the heat this week," Salvin added of the triple digit temperatures, which kept the crowd down slightly. Other Friday nights have seen the pre-cruise move to the Main Street Park for the July 2 edition so as not to collide with a fireworks booth set up in the parking lot at the normal site, and compete with the Park Fete festivities on July 9. From now until Sept. 3, though, the pre-cruise will go on every Friday night at the regular location.

"We're doing fine and our (Autumn Cruise) sign-ups are ahead of last year," Salvin said. "I got all my vendor packets out the other day, now I'm just waiting to hear back."

The annual cruise typically draws close to a couple hundred entries of classics, from cars to motorcycles to an occasional boat. The show itself in September will be staged at the city's Main Street Pak and a portion of Main Street will be shut down for the day to accommodate the various vendors and vehicles.

This year marks the 17th annual Autumn Cruise. Proceeds from the event go toward scholarships for graduating Escalon High School seniors, with the Lions Club pouring all its money back into the community in one way or another. The scholarships have provided thousands of dollars to dozens of students over the years. Cost to display a vehicle in the Sept. 11 cruise is $25 and that registration fee includes a meal ticket and either a commemorative hat or T-shirt, or two meal tickets. Salvin said most people opt for one ticket and the shirt or hat, then buy another meal ticket if they need it. The Lions Club will be cooking up the meal, while other vendors will offer a variety of other merchandise.

"The first 150 people to register get a goody bag," Salvin added. "This year we're also going to have a little fashion show, maybe 45 minutes or so, for the ladies, the local shops Bedazzled and Cowgirl Consignment will be doing a show for us."

Music and information is also part of the day, with emcee Gene Adams typically on hand. He also keeps the music going at the Friday night pre-cruise events, which people can come to and display their vehicles for free. Attendance there also gets them entered into a special drawing for a vacation cruise and Salvin said many of those that attend on Friday nights during the summer also come for the September event.

"We do get fresh people every Friday night," he said of continuing to draw auto enthusiasts.

Some are return visitors who come each week, but he estimated that a third of those displaying their cars on any given Friday night are new to the pre-cruise festivities.

"The word just slowly gets out and people come," Salvin said.

The Sept. 11 show will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a 'line up' of award winners cruising along Main Street at about 3 p.m. to pick up their trophies and plaques.

For more information about either the ongoing Friday night pre-cruise events or the Sept. 11 Autumn Cruise, contact Salvin at 838-7077.