Cruise Night to celebrate car culture

The 405 Freeway closure this weekend is expected to drive down attendance at Cruise Night on Saturday, but city officials are using a tailored marketing effort to gear up interest in the annual event among residents in the greater Glendale area.

Last year’s Cruise Night drew more than 55,000 visitors, a hefty jump from previous years when attendance was around 40,000.

As “Carmageddon” — the 53-hour shut down of 10 miles of the 405 between Interstate 10 and the 101 Freeway — loomed this week, transportation officials launched a massive campaign, urging residents to stay off the roads during the closure to minimize traffic congestion on other freeways and surface streets.

Glendale officials have tapped into that message for its own campaign, “Park It in Glendale” promotion beginning today. The gist: just because traffic on the west side will be a mess doesn’t mean local residents shouldn’t come out for local events.

“We’re going to hit the electronic media hard, saying, ‘You don’t have to stay at home,’” said city spokesman Tom Lorenz.

Glendale officials aren’t necessarily trying to draw people from the west San Fernando Valley, who would have to navigate across congested side streets because of the 405 closure.

“We don’t want to become part of the problem,” Lorenz said. “This is for our neighboring area. People who thought they’d go to the beach and now they can’t. There is something for them to do.”

Cruise Night, to be held from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, will likely feature more than 400 pre-1979 classic cars on Brand Boulevard in downtown Glendale as bands perform music from the 1950s and ‘60s.

The lack of a large-scale music event to attract non-car buffs could also hurt attendance, said Ross Phares, a Glendale Community Services manager, who has coordinated Cruise Night the past 13 years.

Last year, the main attraction was a concert by Chubby Checker, during which 1,692 people broke the world record for the most people simultaneously dancing “The Twist.”

For this year’s Cruise Night, some restaurants will offer meal discounts, free desserts and 2-for-1 deals to try to keep Glendale residents close to home, Lorenz said, and several radio and television stations are expected to broadcast live from the event.

Still, even with stepped-up marketing efforts and special offers, attendance is expected to take a hit.

“We’ll have a smaller turnout,” Lorenz said, estimating the number will be between 40,000 and 50,000 people.

As of Tuesday, the Embassy and Hilton hotels were nearly full for the weekend, which isn’t uncommon, Phares said, because many of the car show participants come from other Southern California cities.


Street closures

Several streets will be closed to accommodate the cars and crowds, including Brand Boulevard, from Doran to Milford streets, starting at 9 a.m. to set up the main stage. At 10 a.m., the Brand closure will expand to Broadway, and at 11 a.m., side streets will close from Orange Street to Maryland Avenue.

Police will begin towing parked cars along closed streets at 10 a.m.


Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World