Anybody who was in downtown Goshen this past Friday night was treated to quite a show. The Fifth Annual First Friday’s Cruisin’ Reunion was the best one to date as hundreds of classic and tricked-out cars cruised the downtown strip for hours. Thousands — some estimate more than 15,000 — of spectators lined the streets and gathered on the courthouse lawn.
With near perfect summer weather, the event ended up being a postcard for what this event is supposed to represent. Children marveled at the cars driving past — Corvettes, Corvairs, Mustangs, MGs , BelAirs and GTOs. So did senior citizens, who often blurted out the year the car was made and what kind of engine was inside it. Get a couple of the old timers standing together and their car knowledge prowess became sort of a quick-draw contest.
The drivers/owners of these hot rods traveled in from across the region, once again making Goshen the cruising capital of country. Maybe that’s an overstatement, but for decades Goshen was a destination of young people eager to show off their ride on a packed Main Street. Behavior got out of hand, and traffic laws were implemented that essentially eliminated the pastime in the mid-1980s.
Now, nearly 30 years later, we can celebrate that aspect of our identity as a city. Somehow, cruising — within the context of a planned event — has become pure again. It’s an annual time warp of memories powered by a 396 Chevy big block with a Hurst shifter.
But Friday night wasn’t just about the cruising. There was live music on the Courthouse lawn as part of Outdoor Summer Music Series. There was a car show on Lincoln Avenue. And there was great food nearly everywhere you turned.
Closing Lincoln Avenue between Main and Third Streets was a smart move as it alleviated congestion along Main and Washington Streets, usually the hub of First Fridays events. And, based on the nature of this event, spectators were able to utilize more of Main Street and even parts of Pike Street as they watched the cruising. As a result, downtown was crowded, but never felt too crowded.
Everybody was well behaved. Goshen Police deserve credit for keeping a close eye (and ear) out for potentially dangerous maneuvers by motorists. Several citations were handed out for squealing tires and other tomfoolery. Several times officers on foot chased down drivers who were suspected of an infraction.
And, certainly, we cannot overlook the efforts of the First Friday’s staff, that worked so hard to pull this event off practically without a hitch. Take a bow. After that incredible display, you deserve it.