Two days out and the 11th annual Peach City Beach Cruise is looking to be the most entertaining one yet.
Indeed, a moxie assemblage of fully stocked, well-oiled and pristinely waxed motor vehicles have begun to arrive in Penticton for the show June 24 to 26 featuring antique, vintage and collector cars, hot rods, muscle cars and trucks, plus (on Saturday) a variety of motorcycles.
And for the second year in a row, organizers have staged another prank-like promotion, hanging a Hyundai Accent from the Penticton Lakeside Resort Convention Centre and Casino’s parkade — last year they put a car in the fountain.
Peach City Beach Cruise Society founder and president Ken Paton said the two spectacles have been a good way to attract attention and interests to the event.
“We have a couple of directors with creative ideas and the ingenuity to make things happen and David Prystay, general manager of the Lakeside, is always supportive of these things, so why not have some fun?” Paton said. “I really want to thank my two directors (society vice-president) Ron Muzzillo and Wayne Wood, who put (the) stunt together.”
Muzzillo said the original car-in-the-fountain promotion was Prystay’s idea.
“We were walking around chatting and he said, ‘You ever think about putting a car in my fountain?’ And I said, ‘Really?’ and so that is what we did,” recalled Muzzillo. “So this year we said to David, ‘This time we are going to hang one off your parkade.’ And he said, ‘Oh, OK.’”
Muzzillo said the car had all the heavy running gear removed from it before it was suspended by cables engineered in consultation with Greyback Construction.
“Getting it up wasn’t the really hard part,” he said. “Getting it cleaned up, sanded, painted and the lettering done, that is what took all the time.”
Muzzillo said the 2011 incarnation of the cruise is shaping up to be the society’s biggest and best so far.
“Registration is running roughly 10 per cent over the same point last year,” he said, estimating that at the current rate the Beach Cruise should draw over 800 cars, plus all the motorcycles.
Festivities kick off today, with the parade leaving from Skaha Lake at 6:30 p.m. along Skaha Lake Road through Main Street, where at Eckhardt Avenue it will slow down for viewing before making its way to Rotary Park on Lakeshore Drive.
Beyond vehicles, Muzzillo said the event will also feature continuous entertainment at Gyro Park including award-winning Elvis Presley impersonator Jeff Bodner, as well as Daryl Weymen as Johnny Cash and Aaron Halliday as Alan Jackson, along with Appaloosa, Dale Seaman and Pam Ferens.
There will also be vendors and a “high-end southern-style” collector car auction in the Lakeside Resort parking lot, he added.
“The Beach Cruise is exciting because it is something that kicks off the summer season in Penticton,” said Muzzillo. “It brings a lot of people here year after year from all over the place. We get people coming from as far as Texas, Arizona or California and, of course, from all over British Columbia and some of the other western provinces. And they always have a good time.
“A few years ago we had Dennis Gage and his camera crew come and film here. Gage is the producer of a show called My Classic Car. He was really impressed with the setting, the city and the show. His program has 30 million viewers worldwide. So it was really good publicity for the city.”
Muzzillo said that the organizers and volunteers who put the Beach Cruise on do it for the same reason as the people who bring their vehicles or come to look at them: they love cars.
“Most of us are car guys,” he said. “We love cars. We own them; we play with them; we work on them; and we drive them.”