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Bellefonte Cruise Continues to Grow in Popularity

by and on June 16, 2017 9:34 AM

It could be the Bellefonte Cruise's popularity allows it to remain in downtown. Or maybe it's the other way around, and it's popular because of its location in a reinvigorated Victorian small town.

Either way, that's where Pat McCool, cruise chairman, wants it to stay. He said that is what sets it apart from other cruises in the state: As car shows move to the outskirts of town and to parks, they lose that certain something.

That something draws in more than 300 cars each year and tens of thousands of people to "ooh" and "ahh" at custom paint jobs and painstaking care put into beloved cars, trucks and motorcycles from throughout the history of the automobile and into the 21st century.

"One of the things that I vowed when I became chairman seven years ago was to one, try to get the community more involved, and two, that it stays in downtown," McCool said. "Now that's a major undertaking in itself. We have to solicit the state for permission to shut down the roads, and of course the borough, which is overwhelmingly cooperative to do all of this."

The Cruise is now in its 29th year, and McCool said the number of participating cars and motorcycles has been slowly growing. It's a huge undertaking, requiring dedicated committee members, sponsors and the participation of the community.

"It takes great people from all walks of life to put this on," McCool said. "It's amazing how well our committee works together."

Though McCool said he tries not to look at the cruise in terms of dollars and cents, that what it takes at the end of the day.

"We can't say enough of our sponsors," he said. "The sponsors are what really makes the show ... the more you've got coming in, the better the show you can make and the bigger the show."

In recent years they've added a food court to the festivities, but McCool said they keep it small so as not to provide too much competition to downtown eateries. So small, in fact, there's a waiting list to get in. The Logan and Undine fire departments can be seen this year zipping around on buggies selling soda. On the diamond, with the permission of Centre County, will be an array of vendors for cruise goers to browse.

After a Friday open cruise in the town and a sock hop on the diamond, registration for the car, truck and motorcycle show will begin at 7 a.m. on Saturday Judging will be done professionally by G.F. Grifana Carshows Inc., with winners to be announced at 5 p.m.

Throughout the day guests will be able to enter for free a drawing for a car provided by Douty Chalfa Automotive Inc. at 3 p.m. Participants must be present to win.

With the addition of a new kids' class and expansion of entertainment options, McCool said they're trying to make the cruise into more of a family event and to get the younger generations involved.

"We really can't emphasize enough to try to get the kids at all levels involved in this," he said.

Sunday will be soapbox derby day, an activity that used to be massively popular in the area, McCool said.

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

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by Centre County Gazette by James Turchick
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