As we all know, this year is different than other years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us plan our summers, particularly weekends, around attending car shows or other old car related events. Virtually every show and event this summer has been cancelled primarily because of the inability to comply with social distancing and other health restrictions designed to keep all of us safe.
The City of Coburg (just north of Eugene along I-5) has been holding an annual car show in their city park for the past 27 years. It is one of my favorite shows to attend. They pack about 200 cars into the park and people come to view the cars in droves. They also have a pancake breakfast and maybe the best barbequed chicken lunch of any car show in the area.
Coming up on their 28th show, the folks putting the show on were unwilling to simply cancel the show. So, they put together an alternative plan to hold a cruise rather than the traditional static display type of show. Arrangements were to stage vehicles at a local vineyards a couple of miles north of town. An estimated 200 or more cars showed up. A local DJ played music while drivers and their passengers awaiting the notice to depart for the cruise. Unlike many cruises, this one was not set up for cars to run back and forth on a closed course in a parade type of atmosphere. Bringing crowds together like that obviously makes social distancing impossible. For this event, cars were broken up into groups of about fifty cars and each group was led on the cruise course by a local public servant, either someone from the fire department of the police department. The course was laid out in such a way that it went through every section of the city. It even went over to the other side of I-5 and through the camp ground. Town residents has been advised of the cruise route well in advance. As we cruised, we encountered many, many small groups of friends and/or family watching from sidewalks, front yards and front porches. The format seemed to be very well accepted by the viewers.
The participants in all seemed to be having a great time. There was a lot of visiting back and forth before the cruise and most everyone was smiling. It was a beautiful summer morning and people were anxious to get together with other car people, drive and show off their vehicles. It was almost as if everyone had just let out a huge sigh and said “at last”.
Usually you are required to register to enter a car show, the process this time was much less formal and no entry fees were charged although they did accept donations and it appeared that most drivers were in fact donating. The show historically is a fund raiser for no-profit programs in the city.
Drivers were encouraged to take advantage of local businesses and restaurants upon the conclusion of the cruise. It appeared that most did in fact hang around, many buying lunch and then heading to the city park in small groups to eat and talk cars.
All in all, a very nice event in a very difficult time.