No. 9 Top Story of the Year: Cruise night picks up downtown

12/24/2010 8:02 AM |

JOHN FRIFFIN FILE PHOTO | Steve LoBasso of Eastport's 1956 Ford Sunliner has a tiger in its tank.

A combination of factors led to a nice shot in the arm for downtown Riverhead that came in the form of an impromptu “cruise night” gathering of classic cars every Thursday along the riverfront. Hundreds of car owners and onlookers packed the parking lot each week during the warmer months.

The gathering had been taking place for years in the King Kullen shopping center parking lot in Wading River, but the group was asked to vacate the strip mall there just days after a feature story appeared in the News-Review. Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter then invited the car lovers to downtown Riverhead. They obliged, and the event grew from there. The revelers were even treated one night to a pop standards cover band concert courtesy of the Riverhead Business Improvement District Management Association.

BID president Ray Pickersgill said the event now draws upward of 300 people on a good night. In contrast, organizers said the event only attracted about 100 people when it was held in Wading River.

What has been good for local car lovers has certainly been great for downtown business. Many of those in attendance said they picked up a slice from Julia’s Pizzeria on East Main Street or planned to visit Digger O’Dell’s after the event.

“It’s people who have disposable money and that’s great,” Mr. Pickersgill said. “Out of all the things we’ve done downtown, cruise night has been one of our most successful.”

The event has been put on hold for the winter.

Town officials and downtown area business owners are hoping Riverhead Cruise Night will return to the riverfront in 2011. Indications are that it will.

36 Comment

  • A Motorsports Park in EPCAL would bring even more $$ to the Riverhead Town!

  • As a member of LIDragRacing.com and the Long Island Motorsports Assoc. I frequently go to cruise nights and shows across Long Island to promote re-establishing safe and legal racing here. I would have to say the Riverhead cruise night is probably the nicest location these are held at in Suffolk Cty. and thank Mr. Walters for giving the motor sports community a plae to go and enjoy the car life. Epcal would be a great place to enjoy the car sport, legally and safely. I believe your local businesses would agree.

  • What a fitting honor for one so deserving!

  • Leslie Weiman is definitely one outstanding person! She is so contempory, wise, creative, adaptive, conscientious, applicable, insightful, original and professional in her planning, decisions, and designs. Leslie takes any of her projects and request to the ultimate possibilty! She has a unique gift of lots of knowledge, proper research which encompasses past, present, and futuristic thoughts. Leslie is so humble and her gratitude comes from touching and making other peoples life a better place.
    Congratulation on being recognized as a “Outstanding Public Servant”!!!!
    From fortunate and appreciative acquaintances in Auburn, MA.