Cars, trucks, vehicles of all kinds began rolling into the Lakeshore Mall parking lot, finding a spot near the road and backing in just as the sun set on the other side of the mall. The number of cars and people continued to grow and it seemed like there wouldn’t be enough room in the lot for everyone.
That was the goal of the Gainesville Cruisers Reunion on Saturday, Sept. 22: to bring everyone together. Car enthusiasts gathered to spend time with old friends, make new ones, and above all else, show off their vehicles.
“This is basically just getting all the car heads together, bring out the kids, let them see cars and hang out with each other,” said Daniel Parson, a Gainesville resident and co-organizer of the event along with Clayton Lovell.
For a few years now, Parson and others have been trying to revamp the cruisers reunions, without much luck. By the time the reunion began this year, more than 450 said on Facebook they would attend and more than 2,000 were interested.
“It gets everybody off the streets from doing something stupid, or at home bored,” Parson said. “And it gives the older people something to come out and do.”
People of all ages took part. Children played with hula hoops and followed their parents as they walked between each car. People in their 70s or older were there showing off their classics.
The younger attendees drove Hondas, Jeeps and Toyotas. Roger Hobbs, who’s in his 70s, brought his 1966 Ford F-100. The two-tone, baby-blue-and-white pickup has been his for just about a year, but he loves it the same.
“I don’t get out to a lot of car shows in the summertime because it’s been too hot,” said Hobbs, an Oakwood resident. “So I decided, a cruise-in, why not?”
He moved to the area in 1975, but remembered growing up having a love for cars. He said he started out with a 1956 Chevrolet, then a 1957 Ford, a 1962 Chevrolet and his all-time favorite, a 1967 Chevrolet Camaro. He even remembers the exact day he bought it — Nov. 24, 1966.
Although he no longer has that Camaro, Hobbs takes care of his F-100 and ever other car he’s had. He said it hasn’t had water on it in about 10 years; he’s never washed it. He has a duster he uses on it every day, sometimes more during pollen season.
There were trucks like Hobbs’ and more modern cars, too. One that caught everyone’s eye was a lime green McLaren that slowly rolled up and parked as the butterfly doors opened.
But the classics got a little more attention as car enthusiasts asked questions and revved their engines.
Doug Bagwell from Gainesville and Randall Gee from Oakwood parked next to each other: Bagwell and his girlfriend, Janice Bittle, in her black 1980 Chevrolet Malibu Landau, Gee in a yellow 1949 Chevrolet Deluxe.
“I used to come out here a lot,” Bagwell said. “Then there wasn’t anybody who came out, but now it looks like they’re getting back to what it was like a long time ago.”
He said his grandfather bought him his first car, a 1957 Ford. It got him from place to place, but as soon as he got a job and saved enough money, he bought a Chevrolet. He likes coming to events like the cruisers reunion just to look at cars, hear the engines and show off his own.
For Gee, it’s much of the same.
“We’re gear heads,” Gee said. “You crank one up, it’s all over.”