My idea of a good time on a Saturday night usually involves piddling in the kitchen or sitting on the front porch with something to read.
Last Saturday night, however, the nosy reporter in me had to find out how the Revive River Drive event was turning out. Would it be a “smokin’ hot-like-rubber-laid-on-asphalt” success, or would it prove to be a “there’s-nothing-to-do-in-this-town” flop?
I suspected the former, but you never know, what with Hurricane Isaac forecasted to drench the area over the weekend.
Thank you very much, Hurricane Isaac for passing to our north for a while. The weather was perfect for cruising, the summer air soft and sultry and just right for driving with the windows rolled down and the radio cranked up.
I coaxed our youngest daughter to drive me around town, so I could take a few pictures for the paper. On the way, I explained to her how people used to drive up and down the strip or park by the road and sit on their hoods or tailgates and just hang out. I think that was kind of hard for her to visualize. During her growing up years, Irvine has typically been pretty deserted on Saturday nights.
Turning onto River Drive, it became apparent that the strip was once more, well–revived.
I’m kind of weird I know, but it was moving to see LOTS of cars driving up and down the strip. Horns were honking, and every now and then, someone would catch the cops not looking and burn some rubber off their tires. Our oldest daughter described it as a scene out of the movie “Cars.”
The best part was that people were smiling, laughing and having a good time.
My driver said it was “weird” to see so many people out, but I think she meant that in a good way, because she said she wished people still did that when she was in high school.
Lots of people were parked along the road and sitting out in lawn chairs or on their car hoods and tailgates just like old times—only more so than old times, I think, because whole families came out, including grandparents like Mary Rawlins.
Back in her day, she said, folks used to cruise up Broadway to the Wigwam. River Drive was just a railroad track then.
She said she and a bunch of friends would pile into a car and chip in 50 cents at a time to keep gas in the tank. I wonder if they ever imagined a day they’d be paying four dollars a gallon to ride around?
Lots of parents brought their young children out. Tambo Hardy said her kids thought the whole thing was a lot of fun, but wanted to know, “Mommy, why do we keep turning around?”
One of the organizers of the event, Stacy York, said, “I can remember riding down River Drive thinking this place was once where everyone had to be. I never thought it would become so desolate.”
She was equally amazed at the communities’ response to the Revive River Drive event. “I never thought in my wildest dreams we would have the turn out we had. The best part of this is that every generation was out with their families. It was good, clean fun.”
Nivra Lainhart, another of those who worked hard to make the event happen, admitted she had some last minute doubts. “I was afraid nobody would show up,” she said.
“This just goes to show how desperate people are to have something to do,” said Shaye McGee as the band “Desist” rocked out in the background at Meade’s. The “Ivy Leaves” performed there earlier in the day.
There’s a simple lesson to be learned here. All that’s really needed for a good time are a reason for people to congregate, some music and good food—and plenty of cold Ale8.
There’s already talk about making the cruises a monthly event. Others wonder why they can’t just get out and drive around every Saturday night.
In fact, there will be a car show this coming Saturday night, Sept.8, at Casa Habanera with DJ Wes Thomas of Boot Scooting Entertainment. The show was scheduled for last Saturday night but was canceled because of the threat of rain.
Laura Fox Conrad, owner of Pizza Palace, said she’d never seen so much traffic on River Drive during the almost 13 years they’ve owned the business.
Time will tell what the long-term repercussions of this event will be, but businesses were revived on Saturday night, for sure.
So were a lot of memories, some traditions and that sense of community that is peculiar to small towns.
I’ll bet some hopes were resurrected too; hopes that maybe the little towns of Irvine and Ravenna aren’t so dead after all.