Cruise Night

Classic cars, hot rods, old-time convertibles and even high-above-the-pavement trucks are expected this weekend at Cruise Night in downtown Effingham.

By Herb Meeker
News Report Staff
Effingham Cruise Night kicks into third gear next weekend.
The third installment of the event starts rolling at 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 8, along Jefferson Avenue.
Almost 1,000 vehicles, cars, trucks, sports utility vehicles and motorcycles are expected to ambled down Jefferson to recall the days when “cruising” downtown was a rite of passage for young people in Effingham and surrounding communities.
But Cruise Night is not just for dedicated car buffs. It is designed to offer enjoyment for entire families with a mix of food, music and other activities well after sundown.
“People can walk the sidewalks and bring the kids. It’s about the community, not just the cars. It’s about remembering yesteryear. That’s what this is really about,” said Boris Bonutti, one of the organizers of Cruise Night.
One stop included years ago along the old Effingham cruise route was the Hi-Boy Restaurant. Last October, the first Cruise Night offered up Hi-Boy burgers made from the original recipe of the popular restaurant on the city’s east side.
The Hi-Boys proved so popular that first night that the crowds gobbled them up. In May, the number of burgers increased, but the lines of customers still snaked around the old courthouse lawn. So Cruise Night plans include some revamping of the burger preparations.
“We’ll have lots of burgers and two production areas to serve them quicker,” Bonutti said. “Each year we do this, we learn.”
With the cruising route extending from Henrietta Avenue to Fourth Street along Jefferson, there are efforts to draw more vendors and activities west of the business district. By the way, Jefferson will switch from a one-way street to a two-way from 5 to 10 p.m. to turn back the clock to the old cruising days in the city.
Across town on that Friday, there will be a similar event dedicated to fast, sleek cars. The Goeckner Brothers dealership will also sponsor its annual Muscle Car Night from 5 to 9 p.m. on Sept. 8. Owners of cars with plenty of horsepower under the hood will gather on the Goecker Brothers lot at 600 East Fayette. The event also serves to introduce the public to the dealership’s new expansion.
There’s no doubt that some of the Mopar drivers might join the cruising line before or after visiting Goeckner’s.
Some of the entertainment and fundraisers included for the third Cruise Night are the Beer and Wine Garden at the corner of Banker and Jefferson. Cadillac Sam will be playing music at that corner, starting at 6 p.m. Friday night.
The Effingham Police Department will be cooking food for a K-9 fundraiser. It is a great chance to meet the police department’s four-legged officers and their handlers. The St. Anthony Bellettes will also conduct a fundraiser that evening.
Imaging of Cruise Night will be enhanced by photographs taken in front of the old Heart Theater near Third and Jefferson. A mobile screen will be set up for showing car-related movies, like “American Grafitti.”
“There will be a lot of little things going on Friday,” Bonutti said.
Cruise Night drew large crowds both during its debut in October 2016, and then the second time around in May. Now, the organizers hope they have tweaked the schedule enough to ensure the event remains a crowd-pleaser.
“This is our third one and we want to keep them coming back,” Bonutti said.
There are also events preceding and after Friday’s Cruise event. The last Thursday Thunder will be run, starting at 6 p.m. at Legacy Harley Davidson. The Harley Barn owner will be the human “target” for an Effingham Police K-9 demonstration that night, which will benefit the department’s program.
Starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, Cars & Coffee will offer a fundraiser for the local Human Society Schultheis Garage & Classics near Martin’s IGA. On Saturday and Sunday, there will be demo rides on motorcycles at Legacy Harley Davidson.