Muscle cars are the stuff of fantasy. The car buffs among us actually invest their time, money and, well, muscle, to make those fantasies real. They polish their dream cars to a fair-thee-well and then they want to show them off. And that is what so called Cruise Nights are all about. Showing off.
This summer, local volunteers are working to mount a regular Tuesday night Cruise Night on Madison Street. The concept has worked well in other suburban downtowns. It is simple. Invite the proud car owners to show off their cars, expect casual and serious gawkers to gawk, and then everyone – the show-offs, the wives of the show-offs, the gawkers and the passersby – stop in and have dinner on the street, shop at the retailers smart enough to stay open, and generally discover that Forest Park has a lot to offer.
No, this is not an art fair. Or a jazz concert series. But it is a legit way to draw attention to Forest Park’s main drag at a time when every retailer and restaurant needs more people walking in the door. We’re not sure if the critics of this idea, and they tend not to be fans of the mayor, either, are thinking thoughts that are a bit high-falutin’, but we suspect so.
Deep breaths culture critics. Shiny, curved metal serves its purpose as well as oil on canvas if it builds business.
The other dimension of the criticism comes from fantasy-minded folks of a different sort who are conflating muscle cars rebuilt by middle-aged guys with mortgages with stock cars driven into walls by young guys without brains. Cruise Night is not going to turn into a scene from “American Graffiti.” Enjoy that fantasy if you want but this event will not require a major cop contingent.
Relax everyone. Business is a challenge. Here’s an idea being pursued by volunteers to try something new. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, then next year we close Constitution Court each Tuesday for free Pilates classes.