Cruisin’ The Grove decorates Main Street with “unique” cars old and new

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, August 29, 2023

CHINA GROVE — For many people, their best memories growing up were when they got in their car with their friends and just cruised around town looking for something to do, but didn’t end up finding anything. That call back to a simpler time made the residents of China Grove brave the summer heat to check out this month’s “Cruisin’ The Grove.”

The city has been putting on this “traditional” event for several years, but they wanted to do something special for the four they had planned for 2023. In April they did a “Jeep Week,” and on Saturday they held a “Unique Rides” theme, encouraging anyone with a car to come and flaunt it to the masses.

“Big misconception, all cars, all vehicles, anything on wheels are welcome for any of our cruis-ins because it’s about community and getting out here and enjoying the downtown,” China Grove Events Coordinator Jill Sellers said. “It really means a lot to the community to get out and do this to show off their cars. Looking forward to the next two.”

Sellers said that 13 vehicles registered for the theme competition and estimated 100 cars rolled by in total. There were classic cars, modern cars and cars that followed the theme more than others. Ken Graf parked at a corner on Main Street his 1982 Ford Mustang that has so many additions to it that the average person could not recognize what car it was. “It’s the only car I’ve ever owned that has crystal bug vases in the back with roses in them,” Graf said.

Graf says he has had it for five years and confirms it is for sale. This is the first time he has taken the car to China Grove since he is very particular on when he does. “We’ve done other ones, it’s got to be a really nice day. I don’t take it out if it’s going to rain, I don’t take it out if it’s going to be 100 degrees like it is today,” Graf said.

Todd Petrea’s 1931 Ford Model A is a red hot rod that demands a person’s attention when they see it from across the street. He bought it back in May and brought it to “Cruisin’ The Grove” for the first time as well. This isn’t the only car he owns, Petrea has a 1954 Ford pickup truck at home, too. For someone like Petrea, “Cruisin’ The Grove” is a perfect weekend activity that features one of his favorite pastimes.

“I like it, I like it a lot,” Petrea said. “I just like cars, especially the old stuff, the older the better.”

Gary Morgan didn’t have a car to register for the competition, but he’s such a fan of them that he came out anyway to see all of them. His favorite of the day was the 1969 Mustang Mach 1. “Just to get out of the house and look at all the cars,” Morgan said. “They do a good job.”

Susan Grar won “Best in Show” with her 1939 Zimmer and Sally Gaddy and Paul Smith received second prize with their 1948 Chevy Rat Rod Bus. In September, “Cruisin’ The Grove” will have a “Lifted Week” theme and in October they will have a “Classics Week & Cruisin’ for Candy Fall Event.”