Cruise Nite broadens its tread print

Kearney Hub Opinion (Reprinted)

Cruise Nite 2018 has become just a speck in the rear-view mirror, but it’s not too late to thank the Central Nebraska Auto Club and other supporters for pulling off a wonderful car festival.

For years the Hub has regarded Cruise Nite as Kearney’s signature event, and 2018 really lived up to that billing. This year’s Cruise Nite expanded its footprint with new events, including a show ‘n’ shine that attracted more than 100 vehicles and a large crowd of spectators to BluePrint Engines in southeast Kearney.

People who attended the show saw some rare autos and trucks, and they glimpsed the future of engine-building technology during tours of BluePrint’s new 150,000-square-foot plant. BluePrint personnel explained their company’s aspirations and showcased some of the production and quality assurance technology that lands the homegrown company on the pages of so many auto enthusiast publications. This week, Congressman Adrian Smith recognized BluePrint with business innovation and leadership award.

Other Cruise Nite staples — car auction, Saturday show ’n’ shine, burnout contest, drag races — were well-attended and attracted large numbers of participants. Mother Nature even smiled on Cruise Nite 2018 with temps in the mid-80s. It was a welcome reprieve from the normally blistering mid-July weather. Note to Central Nebraska Auto Club: Please order more great weather for 2019.

Also worth noting, Cruise Nite concluded safely with no reported injuries. The Be Safe Be Smart partnership among Cruise Nite organizers, university leaders, Kearney landlords, and law enforcement again prevented major parties along 25th Street close to the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Added patrols by Kearney Police and Buffalo County deputies detained a handful of drivers for DUI and other violations.

To wrap up, Cruise Nite planners are to be congratulated for again including Kearney nursing home residents in their plans. The Wednesday evening Classic Car Tour passes all 14 of Kearney’s nursing facilities and gives residents a chance to rekindle memories of cars from their childhoods, teenage years and family times.

This year, Classic Car Tour planners thoughtfully invited members of the Grand Island Veterans’ Home to join the enjoyment, so the 200 cars in the nursing home parade detoured past Dryden Park where the veterans were waiting.

In a couple of months, the Central Nebraska Auto Club will announce recipients of donations made possible through Cruise Nite proceeds. The Auto Club generously supports Goodfellows, provides scholarships for youths planning to study auto mechanics, and supports a variety of worthy causes.

The donations are a reminder that planning and orchestration of Cruise Nite’s six-day event have grown into a 12-month pursuit. The Central Nebraska Auto Club closes the books on one event and turns around to begin planning the next. There are no doubt club members take their volunteer work seriously. Proof of that dedication and effort is demonstrated by the quality and popularity of Cruise Nite, which continues to be Kearney’s signature event.