By Rachel Ravina, Staff Writer
(Oct. 10, 2019) Car enthusiasts can travel back in time and see restored vehicles during the 15th annual Fall Cruisers on Main Street in downtown Berlin.
Larnet St. Amant, executive director of the Berlin Chamber of Commerce, said Main Street typically closes around 6 a.m. for the event. She added that the presentation of awards would take place around 2 p.m.
St. Amant also said the entrance fee would $10, and that car enthusiasts can register at the Berlin Chamber of Commerce’s tent on Commerce Street.
Tanja Giles, event chair of the Fall Cruisers in Berlin, said between 150 and 200 cars could be parked throughout downtown if the weather cooperates. She recalled that the 2018 event drew about 120 cars.
“The cars are phenomenal,” Giles said.
Weather.com forecasts a high of 73 degrees with a mostly sunny sky for Saturday in Berlin.
Giles said that in the event of inclement weather, Fall Cruisers would be canceled.
Longtime event volunteer Mike Wiley said he loves when the Berlin Fire Company parks its 1924 Mack Fire Truck downtown.
“Here’s something tha’s almost 100 years old and it still runs,” Wiley said.
Organizers said the Fall Cruisers in Berlin is an “offshoot” of the Endless Summer Cruisin car show taking place at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center on 40th Street and the Ocean City inlet parking lot this weekend.
“You can only sit in a folding beach chair at the inlet for so long,” Wiley said. “They get tired of the T-shirt shops, and the saltwater taffy, and popcorn, and they’re ready for something different.”
Berlin’ downtown shops and restaurants will also be open throughout the event.
St. Amant also said fall cruisers offer attendees fond memories of yesteryear.
“It’s a feel-good family event,” St. Amant said. “It’s a nice way to tell your kids, ‘Oh, that was my first car. Your grandparents had that car.’; It’s nostalgia.”
While hundreds of spectators check out the classic cars, several judges will be on the lookout for vehicles that stand out.
Giles said there are categories for best truck, classic, “rat rod” (generally unrestored, but super-fast) and people’s choice.
She also said that an award is presented to honor the memory of former judge Michael L. Heishman, who died at the age of 57. Giles said he would bring a 1944 Oldsmobile from Pennsylvania for the event.
Wiley added that Heishman’s widow continued the tradition by bringing the car to the fall cruisers.
“It’s always a tearjerker for her and a lot of other people,” Wiley said.
William Alton, owner of several antique stores in Berlin and former chamber president, said he started the event years ago. He was trying to drum up ideas to bring people to town when an antique car owner would come into his shop.
It’s something that Alton said he looks forward to every year.
“It’s really nice when people stroll in the streets of Berlin, and there’s a picturesque old-time cars, and the streets are blocked off so you don’t have all the traffic going,” he said.