This weekend, Penticton’s streets will be full of cars that somehow manage to make your old junker look even worse by comparison.
The 12th annual Peach City Beach Cruise will again be held along Penticton’s Lakeshore Drive, framed against the beautiful Okanagan beach, from Friday through Sunday.
There will be a huge range of vintage and collector vehicles — and with the inclusion of hot rods, dragsters, motorcycles and vintage tractors, the Beach Cruise offers enough variety for any and all autophiles to find something that piques their interest.
The event garnered international attention in 2009, when it was featured on Speed channel’s My Classic Car.
Last year, the cruise saw more than 780 vehicles registered and 25,000 spectators in attendance, marking the cruise’s largest event to date. Organizers said, based on their registration numbers thus far, they are expecting 800 registrants.
“We’re victims of our own success,” said Wayne Wood, vice-president of the Penticton Historic Automobile Society, the organization that organizes and runs the cruise.
The draw isn’t only for the locals or those in the province, said Ron Muzzillo, president of the society.
“We attract people displaying their cars from as far south as Texas and California, and the states in between, as far east as Saskatchewan, and the provinces this way, so it’s a huge draw for the city.”
However, this year’s event is marked with sadness, as Ken Paton, former president and one of the founders of the automobile society, as well as a monumental force in creating the Beach Cruise, passed away last fall. This year’s event marks the first year Paton will not be in attendance enjoying the crowd, the cruise and most of all, the cars.
“He was Mr. Peach City Beach Cruise. He was the figurehead, he was the person who knew everything, knew everybody in the car scene, and he’ll be greatly missed,” said Muzzillo.
When the automobile society started the cruise 11 years ago, it only featured around 250 cars, far short of last year’s 780, a growth that Paton helped to achieve.
The car show isn’t the only thing that’s grown with the cruise over the years. The city’s chamber of commerce estimated that $1.5 million is brought into the city as a result of the cruise through visitors spending money on food, lodging and other necessities and services in the city.
In recognition of his effort organizing the event and what it does for Penticton, the mayor and councillors proclaimed the first day of every Peach City Beach Cruise to be known as Ken Paton Day in the city.
Following a VIP event on the SS Sicamous on Thursday night, the event begins in earnest on Friday at 6:30 p.m., when the vehicles featured in the event will make their way in a parade from Skaha Lake to Okanagan Lake, where the cars will be on display throughout the evening at Rotary Park.
For the next two days, the vehicles will be shown down Lakeshore Drive and the 100 block of Main Street.
As well as the cars, in Gyro Park there will be live music from acts such as country-rocker Pam Ferens and an array of unique and interesting vendors.
As well, for the third year, there will be a southern-style collector car auction, presented by the Electric Garage in the parking lot at the Penticton Lakeside Resort.
Although not many appreciate it, events like the Peach City Beach Cruise require both the co-operation from city officials, whom Muzzillo said were extremely receptive to the requests of organizers, and the efforts of literally hundreds of volunteers donating countless hours, whom Muzzillo thanked.
For more information on the Peach City Beach Cruise, visit www.peachcitybeachcruise.com.