It’s a car enthusiast’s dream come true. Hundreds of cars of every size and shape imaginable, vintage to modern, street to hot rod, stretching all along the shore of Lake Okanagan.
This weekend, the Penticton Historic Automobile Society is bringing that dream to life for the 14th time with the annual Peach City Beach Cruise.
The fun gets underway Friday evening with the Beach to Peach parade, with hundreds of cars pulling out of Skaha Lake Beach Park at 5:30 p.m. and heading down Penticton’s main drag to the Peach on Okanagan Lake.
Led by the RCMP and with rolling stops blocking intersections temporarily along the way, the convoy cruises along until they get to Main and Eckhardt.
“Then the downtown Penticton Association totally closes Main Street and we go two abreast at slow, slow speed,” said Wayne Wood, president of PHAS.
If you are out along the downtown parade route, you might catch sight of some of the special vehicles that are attending this year’s Beach Cruise.
Wood says one to keep an eye out for is the Apache, a chopped and channelled, cherry-red 1932 Ford roadster that is one of the best known hot rods of the last half century.
“It’s probably been in every hot rod magazine that you can imagine. It’s a really special vehicle, it’s been around for a long time,” said Wood.
Jim McGowan purchased the original roadster in 1952, customized it and the Apache has been a hit since its first car show in Vancouver in 1953.
In 2007, at a show in Victoria marking the 75th anniversary of the 1932 Ford, the Apache was given the award for being the most historic hot rod.
If you are watching on the downtown portion of the parade route, you might catch a glimpse of a special vehicle joining the parade at Eckhardt.
“It’s the 1889 Waterous, a steam-powered pump that the firefighters used. It will be pulled by a team of horses,” said Wood.
This vehicle has been at the Beach Cruise before, and Wood said Penticton is lucky to have a return visit.
“They have a policy, they almost never go anywhere twice. They actually approached us about coming a second time. That says a lot that we can attract that type of vehicle,” said Wood.
The Waterous will be set up on the corner of Power and Lakeshore on Saturday, next to the classic machine show in Lakwanna Park.
“It will be all fired up and the local fire department is working hand-in-hand with them to get a water supply and all the other things the firemen need so it shoots water way up in the air.”
Wood says registration for the show is following a typical pattern, and they are expecting between 600 and 700 cars.
“Whether it goes above that all depends on whether it is a sunny day,” said Wood.
There are many things, he said, that keep the show so popular year after year.
“It’s hard to beat the setting, cars lined up along lakeshore, side-by-side,” he said.
“The other is that it is a three-day car show. A lot of other car shows, they are one day or an afternoon, that type of thing.”
That makes the three-day Beach Cruise something special, he said.
And they keep the participants busy for the three days, with events like the annual auction, a wine tour or the winding road cruise that goes into the back hills up around Apex and over to the Dominion Observatory.
“A lot of these guys, they don’t get to drive on those twisty roads, they only drive on highways,” said Wood.
The Friday evening has turned into a big show on its own, according to Wood.
“You go down Lakeshore and there are hundreds and hundreds of people already on Friday evening wandering by the cars,” he said, adding that the Saturday crowd is even bigger. “It is all packed and Saturday it is just nuts down there. You can hardly walk at times.”
If you are looking for a break from walking at the show, you might try resting on the Ken Paton memorial bench, which was just dedicated last week in memory of the Beach Cruise’s founder.
Designed by artist Gerry Houghton, the bench, in the shape of a car seat and door, sits on Lakeshore Drive near the beach.