By Roxanne Hooper & Kurt Langmann
Everything is lining up “perfectly” for the move of the Langley Good Times Cruise-In to downtown Aldergrove this fall, and the community appears to be rolling out the welcome mat.
That was the message Cruise-In president Wayne Patterson gave Thursday night to a crowd of about 50 Aldergrove merchants and residents during a public information meeting at the Royal Canadian Legion.
“We’re excited to be moving it to Aldergrove,” Patterson said, giving a 40-minute overview of the show and fielding questions on everything from parking and food vendors, to Friday night activities, spectator demographics, washrooms, volunteers, and recipient charities.
After the cost of policing became an insurmountable issue to hosting the car show in downtown Langley, Patterson told the audience that consideration was given to shutting the event down, or moving it to another location – in the Township. They looked at the Langley Regional Airport, Walnut Grove, and Brookswood.
But the Cruise-In directors were unanimous that Aldergrove was the “better fit,” Patterson said, recognizing the efforts made by the Township of Langley to help facilitate this move.
Two days prior to the public information meeting, Patterson took possession of the final permits necessary to shut down sections of the Fraser Highway for the 20th annual charity car show. “It was great. It only took about four months to get that,” he said of the permissions. “On Tuesday, I even got a message from [Mayor] Jack [Froese] that he was all excited for it and looking forward to a great show.”
With the permits now in hand, and the support Cruise-In has been receiving not only from the Aldergrove Business Assocation, but a number of individual businesses, he said “We’re really excited to move it into your community.”
Most in the crowd seemed excited to learn that Cruise-in is expected to bring an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 people to this community for the two-day event (to both the car show on Saturday, Sept. 9, and the swap meet on Sunday, Sept. 10).
Provided that the weather cooperates, the non-profit Cruise-In expects to draw between 1,000 and 1,300 collector and custom vehicles (although the plan allows expansion for as many as 1,900). They’ll be parked along the main streets of downtown Aldergrove for the day, allowing about 20,000 to 30,000 spectators at any one time during the day to meander through and inspect the vehicles, Patterson explained.
While a few car enthusiasts have said they won’t be making the move from Langley City to Aldergrove, Patterson said he’s received more positive than negative feedback from car owners who are excited for the change. And they’re expecting even more collectors from Chilliwack and farther afield from the B.C. Interior to be participating than ever before.
Patterson said there is “great interest” from car owners closer to home to be part of the show, as well. That includes Ian Newby, of Aldergrove’s International Movie Services, who is one of the local enthusiasts planning to bring as many as 30 of his vehicles to Cruise-In.
“I always brought vehicles to the Cruise-In when it was in Langley City, but this is closer and I’ll save a lot on gas,” Newby explained following Thursday night’s meeting.
Newby has an extensive collection of military vehicles, as well as classic cars, trucks, and buses – which he rents to the movie industry for film shoots. One of his newest acquisitions is a Second World War, 25-pound field gun, which he hopes to have operational for Aldergrove Fair Days, as well as the Cruise-In.
Aldergrove getting behind the move
The sheer number of people present for the public information meeting – held a night before a long weekend – is a strong indication that people in Aldergrove are passionate about bringing the car show to their community, Patterson said.
Following Thursday’s meeting, Patterson said “we feel the community is behind the move to Aldergrove. It has been a pleasure working with the Township and the ABA (Aldergrove Business Association) as a joint effort to make everything come together.”
ABA president Rob Wilson agreed.
“This is a huge opportunity for Aldergrove, and it’s incumbent on us to make it a roaring success so they come back in future years,” Wilson said.
The addition of the pool, Cruise-In, and a number of other pluses for Aldergrove speak to the community’s potential, Wilson insisted. And thanks to all these factors, “there’s a huge opportunity for Aldergrove to take off, and especially on the business end,” he insisted.
“We want to thank the directors of Cruise-In for picking Aldergrove, and we look forward to working with you to make it a huge success… we’ll make Aldergrove really shine for all the thousands of visitors.”
To help apply some of that spit and polish in advance of Cruise-In, Wilson explained that the ABA will be holding a special clean-up on the Saturday prior to the event, and said “more volunteer help will help make it a better job.” People can sign up to get involved by going to the aldergroveba.ca website and clicking on the “green button.”
Karen Long, an Aldergrove community advocate and part of the ABA, used the word “excited” several times over to explain her feelings and those of other business owners and residents regarding the move of Cruise-In to her neighbourhood.
“We’re very excited to welome Cruise-In to Aldergrove Sept. 9, and we’re going to put out the red carpet and welcome everyone,” she said. “We’re going to do our best to work with the Cruise-In committee to make sure that we put our best foot forward, and that all the businesses are ready to welcome the thousands of people who are going to be coming to Aldergrove.
Looking at the logistics
When it came to explaining some of the logistics of the show, Patterson announced that the main stage, souvenir booth, and information will be concentrated around the centre of 272nd Street and Fraser Highway, with cars displayed out from there for several blocks along both roadways.
The Saturday marketplace will be set up in the former Aldergrove Mall parking lot (which the next day will be used for the Cruise-In’s car corral and swap meet), and the food vendors will be located across the street in the Salvation Army thrift store parking lot off 272nd Street.
Patterson noted that all the money generated by the participating food vendors – including the world-renowned In ’N’ Out Burger from California – will donate all proceeds to the cause or designated community charities, so as not to compete too heavily with restaurants.
“The restaurants will be extremely business in the area,” he said, offering assurances. “You could expect to see lineups outside your door for pretty much the whole day.”
Likewise, he said to other merchants that they might not see the same kind of influx of traffic. But, he encouraged them to make their presence known with catchy displays.
“Remember, you could have 50,000 to 100,000 people walking past your store, so this is your time to shine. This is your time to put your mark out there…” Patterson said.
He noted that past surveys have shown that the charity car show brings in $4-$6 million to the local economy on Cruise-In weekend.
There will about 250 “no parking” and road closure signs posted in the days leading up to the event, to help educate the residents and business owners and to help keep traffic flowing smoothly in and around the core, the show president elaborated.
There will also be a large contingent of municipal parking officials out combing the streets to ensure parking restrictions are adhered to, while at the same time ensuring all efforts that can be made are to provide access to area shops.
“We’re trying to make it as friendly as possible, so all the merchants and staff have room and access to get in and out of their areas,” Patterson said.
Some of the main street parking restrictions will come into play Friday afternoon, allowing street sweepers to thoroughly clean up for the car show. Then, on event day, all designated streets will be shut down from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9. Fraser Highway will be closed between 264th and 273rd Streets, as well as closure of some of the side streets such as 272nd Street. Some sections will be open to permitted drivers, while others will be open to local traffic. But the main chunk in the centre of town will be blocked off.
Valley Traffic has a traffic management plan, approved by the federal and provincial governments, and there will be a large crew of volunteers and Valley Traffic staff directing local and visitor traffic.
Director Lori Watts confirmed there will be no road closures necessary for the Sunday swap meet.
Port-potties will be set up at designated locations throughout the Cruise-In area, and public washrooms are also located near the vintage car displays – otherwise known as the Cruise-In’s Concours d’Elegance.
Arrangements have already been made for free parking at Philip Jackman Park, Parkside Centennial Elementary, Langley Banquet Centre, behind the Aldergrove Furniture Warehouse, Aldergrove Kinsmen Community Centre, the Aldergrove Community Arena, and 270th Street south of Fraser Highway.
“This is the first year. We will have growing pains,” Patterson concluded. “We’re open to discussing any concerns you have.”
He said the board is happy and prepared to answer questions, and encouraged people to email through the Cruise-In website.
“As I concluded the evening, I realized we truly are welcome in Aldergrove and everyone has the same goal ‘to have a great car show that is free to the pubic, and to support the community, and raise money for charity’,” Patterson shared with the Langley Advance following the meeting.
“Thank you everyone for showing up and supporting the 2017 show, see you on Sept. 9.”