By Megan Knowles
NEW HAVEN — July 10 will be a big night for the annual Cruise-in on Broadway and the city that hosts it.
The event, now in its 22nd year, brings up to 500 cars and other vehicles to downtown New Haven to be enjoyed by thousands of spectators.
The cruise-in is the main event for the Canal Cruzers Car Club, a group of 18 to 25 who have been gathering for almost three decades to promote their hobby and their community.
“It’s all about getting together,” club secretary Steve Ostheimer said. “When you go to a car show you’re seeing guys you haven’t seen in sometimes a year, sometimes 10 years. You get to know other people’s wives and kids and it’s just a lot of fun. We’ve been doing this since we were kids in high school and it’s good for the community.”
The entry fee for cars is $10, and since its inception that money has gone straight back into the community — first to Youth for Christ, then to the fire department, and for the last five years to the police reserve program.
“We have never kept a dime. … All it does is go in a bucket and get counted and goes right to the police reserve, every dime. It’s always been that way,” Ostheimer said.
Overall, he reckons the club has collected $60,000 to $70,000 for various charities throughout the cruise-in’s history.
The club prides itself on showcasing the city as part of the event.
“What makes us different is we’re not in a parking lot, we’re not in a park. We’re in downtown New Haven and it’s got the old downtown atmosphere. Last year it was almost 500 cars and the car show was over a half a mile long,” Ostheimer said.
“They’re lined up from one end of New Haven to the other,” said Jason Voelck, who’s Smokehaus BBQ is the sponsor this year. “It’s a great night for New Haven.”
This year, the cruise-in, which runs from 6-9 p.m., also coincides with the kickoff of the Music, Market and Munchies event, which will feature food trucks, a makers market and a performance by the Junk Yard Band in Schnelker Park.
The New Haven Chamber of Commerce will add to the veterans memorial in the park that night as well.
As part of a recent civic pride fundraiser, the Chamber and the New Haven Community Foundation worked with businesses and artists to decorate fiberglass bulldogs that are on display around town.
Two bulldogs, one sponsored by the Chamber and one sponsored by Douglas W. Perkins, CPA, were painted with a military theme by artist Shannen Colter, Chamber President/CEO Charlie Hatten said.
On July 10 at 5:30 p.m., the larger of the two will be added to the veterans memorial, while that same night the “pup” version will be donated to the Navy Club, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, Hatten said.
“That night, on the 10th, there’s going to be a lot going on,” Hatten said.