Car Club will have final cruise-in of the season Saturday night

Photo by John Bryant
The Carter County Car Club will have its final cruise-in of the season downtown Saturday, when the car club will host a Halloween costume contest for young and old alike.

  By Rozella Hardin
star staff
  A steady string of early '60s tunes -- "Little GTO," "Great Balls of Fire," as well as some Elvis tunes -- poured from the music wagon of the Carter County Car Club last Saturday evening as vintage Mustangs, Ford trucks, Chevy Corvettes, and dressed-out street cars showed off their stuff at the weekly cruise-in in downtown Elizabethton.
  The car club will have its final cruise-in of the season Saturday evening, and for most of the participants it has been a fun summer.
  Dozens of cars and trucks of various makes and designs, from class pre-World II models to supercharged street cars have been showing up for the Saturday night cruise-in downtown. They come from North and South Carolina and Virginia as well as neighboring Washington, Sullivan and Unicoi counties. The cruise-in attracts aficionados and spectators, who listen to music, eat a hotdog and view the classic, vintage and just-plain ancient vehicles. It's become a tradition to some on Saturday night during the summer.
  Last Saturday's show attracted Michael and Maxie Brickey of Gate City, Va., who came over to see the cars lined up and down Elk Avenue. Michael, who works at Mountain States Hospital Association, is a Corvette fan while his wife likes Thunderbirds. Michael was admiring a '62 Corvette -- "the only style I would have," he said.
  "The cruise-in reminds you of the downtown of a few years back when people cruised through the downtown on Saturday night," said Maxie.
  Parked a few spots away was H.D. "Hotdog" Carden's '55 Chevy. "Hotdog," who lives in Johnson City, said all of his dad's people are from Carden's Bluff. "I've always liked old cars," he said, noting that he comes to Elizabethton quite often to show off his car. "I've had a good time this summer. Elizabethton is a unique town, and the cruising downtown is unique. I've met a lot of people this summer," he said.
  This week's show was down some as the cruising season is winding down. Less than 100 cars were parked on Elk Avenue, however, some Saturday nights have seen as many 200 to 250 cars downtown.
  A sizable number of models were Chevrolets and Fords, but there were several other brands, including a 1972 Pontiac GTO, a 1962 Mustang, and a 1939 Chevrolet.
  Jeff and Bonnie Feathers, who live in Blackbottom, had driven their Chevrolet Caprice uptown to show. Jeff was mingling with other car enthusiasts while Bonnie was listening to the UT-Alabama football game. "I like the different cars and the people. I really like having the cruise-in downtown, and I hope they bring it back next summer," said Bonnie, who had set her lawn chair up at the corner of Elk and Pine Streets. "We come up here about every Saturday night, and we stay until the end," Bonnie said.
  "It's been a great summer," said Richard Arnett, who was manning the music wagon. "Next week will be the last cruise-in for the summer. We hope to be back next summer," he said.
  "There's not as many cars or people here tonight with the season winding down, but, for the most part, we have had good participation as well as crowds. The weather was bad for several weeks at the beginning," said Arnett.
  With Halloween being celebrated Saturday, all car owners as well as the public are invited to wear costumes. "We will have a Halloween costume contest, and there will be some cash prizes," said Arnett. "Both old and young are invited to dress up."
  Earlier in the day, trick-or-treating will be held downtown from 2 to 4 p.m. And, the old cars will begin arriving around 4:30 p.m. for an evening of vintage fun.
  The cruise-ins have been profitable for several charities, as money raised by the car club goes to such charities as the East Tennessee Christian Home. Also, there have been cash prizes for the car show people, and of course, there has been food and music.
  "Car owners like the camaraderie of the show," Arnett said.