Huge crowds prompt cruise-in changes

First Posted: 7/1/2009

PILOT MOUNTAIN Sometimes success can create its own challenges.
Such is the case with the tremendously popular Hot Nights and Hot Cars cruise-in series. The downtown events are held on the first Saturday of each month and have grown steadily, drawing visitors from throughout the state and beyond.
According to Jerry Venable of the sponsoring Mount Pilot NOW group, last months event was the largest yet. He estimates that close to 1,000 cars parked or came through the downtown area along with some 5,000 people. The overwhelming turn-out created a premium for parking spaces and left organizers scrambling for more parking options and ways to manage traffic.
Several additional spaces have already been added for this month, but at a price. Organizers have announced the cancellation of the popular evening burn-out event, freeing space for parking as well as officers for security and traffic management.
But the events numerous other features will remain, including the steady stream of antique, classic, street rod, pro-street and muscle cars, along with trucks and motorcycles, filling the towns streets and parking lots.
A new addition will be a preliminary band, scheduled to take the stage at 3 p.m. NF52, a Southern Rock band composed of local teens, will be making their cruise-in debut.
Were all about family, Venable noted, and we want to try to have something for everybody. We thought this would be good for the teens to enjoy.
The high-energy atmosphere will continue later with the return of The Mixed Emotions, a veteran nine-piece group based in Thurmond and featuring a four-piece horn section. The resulting sound is an energetic mix of 60s and 70s classics along with other funk and beach material.
Venable also hinted at other new activities, yet to be confirmed, that will highlight the sense of patriotism surrounding the day.
Other featured activities will include a 50/50 cash drawing and a raffle for a diamond ring from sponsor Hayes Jewelers of Lexington. Commemorative event T-shirts will again be available and several downtown shops and businesses will be featuring extended hours for the evening. New food vendors have also been added for this year.
Those attending are again asked to bring along a non-perishable food item for donation to the Pilot Mountain Outreach Center. According to Venable, last months large crowd produced the largest collection of food items yet received.
Also on hand will be Stony Knoll Vineyards, which will again be hosting a wine garden. Wine garden participants are asked to remain in the bandstand area.
With good weather, Venable noted, this Saturday could be even bigger than last month. With this being a holiday, people will be looking for a chance to get outside. Were expecting a crowd.

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