PILOT MOUNTAIN — The Mount Pilot Now group will be looking to provide more of a good thing today as they kick off a new season of the “Hot Nights and Hot Cars” summer cruise-in series.
The free events are held on the first Saturday of each month throughout the summer.
“Last October,” explained Mount Pilot Now board Chairman Dominick Guarnaccio, “we had over 900 show cars and an estimated 10,000 people in town. Because of that, we’re keeping it pretty much the same. And we’ve started seeing people come in from greater distances, including our surrounding states. They’ll come in on a Friday night and stay the weekend in one of our bed and breakfasts or hotels. They spend while they’re here and that’s obviously a boost for our economy.”
Owners of antique, classic, street rod, pro street and muscle cars are again invited to bring their vehicles downtown to either park or cruise. Officially, this year’s events have been extended with an earlier 3 p.m. starting time. But classic car owners are expected to begin to fill the streets by mid-morning in search of choice parking spaces. Parking areas will be clearly defined with specific designations for both classic car owners and spectators.
A new addition for this year’s series will be a featured car for each month. Today’s car will be a 1966 Chevy II SS owned by the late James “Meatball” Brady, featured as a tribute to the memory of the Pinnacle resident and long-time car enthusiast.
The event’s musical guests, The Mixed Emotions, should be familiar to local audiences. Having appeared in Pilot Mountain on several occasions, the Piedmont-based band has built a local following. The nine-piece group features a five-piece rhythm section and a four-piece horn section. The resulting sound is an energetic mix of ’60s and ’70s classics along with other funk and beach material. The veteran band has released four CDs and have preformed regularly at events throughout the region, state and beyond. Lawn chairs are suggested for listening comfort.
“They should get our season off to a very good start,” Guarnaccio said. “They’re a popular band that gets their audience involved. We’re glad to have them as part of a strong music line-up throughout the summer.”
Guarnaccio also noted that the Depot Street dance floor has been changed from asphalt to a concrete base, with painting to be completed this week.
According to Guarnaccio, one of the factors that has helped to drive the event’s success has been the dual attraction of hundreds of classic cars and top beach music bands. He noted that separate segments of those attending come for each feature while others come to enjoy both.
Those attending are asked to bring along a non-perishable food item for donation to the Pilot Mountain Outreach Center. All food donations will be used to benefit area residents with need.
Also returning this year is Stony Knoll Vineyards, which will again be hosting a wine garden. Wine garden participants are asked to remain in the bandstand area. Other event restrictions include no pets, tents or coolers.
A limited number of food vendors will be on hand to support any overflow from local restaurants.
Mount Pilot Drug will return as a host sponsor for this year and will be joined by a new sponsor, The Sheppard’s Inn. Numerous other businesses also support the series with varying degrees of sponsorship.
“This was started,” Guarnaccio said, “as an effort to rejuvenate the area. That hasn’t changed. Our whole reason for doing this is still to bring people downtown. Our merchants love it and everyone has a good time.”