Cruise Nite: Coolest car show in Ventura County returns to Downtown Friday

April 05, 2017
Santa Paula News

The coolest event in Ventura County, Santa Paula’s Cruise Nite, is revving up for its 19th season Friday with hundreds of sweet, pre-1975 cars and even more friends strolling historic East Main Street enjoying live music, restaurants, shopping and the vibe of the historic Downtown.

The April 7 Cruise Nite is held from about 5 p.m. to dusk; car owners start arriving in the Downtown well in advance to snag that perfect space to park and show off their vehicles. 

Cruise Nite closes East Main Street between 10th and 7th streets, an event so popular that side streets are also utilized for the spillover of vehicles that can include motorcycles.

Sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and the Santa Paula Police Officers Association, Cruise Nite offers a night of fun for the entire family. 

There’s always a favorite live local band performing under the Clock Tower and special Cruise Nite T-shirts — each month featuring a different displayed car — available for sale across the street. 

As always, Santa Paula Citizens Corps and the Santa Paula Fire Department will be offering Sidewalk CPR instruction — the new hands-only method of life-saving — in the area of Main and Mill streets. Each person that takes this 2-minute instruction will be entered in a raffle for a restaurant gift card.

Things are always happening at Cruise Nite where many downtown restaurants offerspecials and additional in-house entertainment and friends meet friends — and make new friends — as they stroll the Downtown.

“I’m really looking forward to it as well as a whole lot of other people,” said Santa Paula Police Commander Ish Cordero. “It’s exciting to keep Cruise Nite going season after season, it’s a community event where everyone is welcome. ”

Johnny & The Love Handles will play Friday evening at Cruise Nite, an event Cordero said draws people because “they like the ambiance of the Downtown. It’s very relaxed, people walking up and down, plenty of places to eat and drink and meeting up with people they know or haven’t seen for awhile.”

The event, he noted, “Is starting to be a tradition for Santa Paula High School reunions, some are having them in conjuncture with Cruise Nite. They try to meet close to the Downtown so they can all enjoy it together and reminisce.”

The main attraction though “Are the cars; some are pretty expensive, a lot of work, money and love goes into these cars.”

Cordero does not have a car that he displays but he does have plans: “I want to get a 1967 Chevelle or Camaro or an Impala. It has to be a Chevy, I’m a Chevy guy, and that will be my retirement project.”

It takes many to put on Cruise Nite: “I want to thank the Santa Paula Police Officers Association, the Chamber of Commerce and the city for being our co-partners and the Downtown merchants. Without their support this wouldn’t be happening for eight months on the First Friday every year.”

Longtime Cruise Nite coordinators Dave Anderson and Henry Aguilar, both retired SPPD Sergeants, “Have been sticking it out for 19 years now and do a great job.”

Cordero said to be sure to look for the first of the new edition of Cruise Nite T-shirts, featuring a 1957 Chevy Nomad station wagon created by Vic Rodriguez of R Promotions.

“He’s doing a fine job with the shirts,” that are snapped up by Cruise Nite attendees and even fabric artists that turn the shirts into quilts and pillows.

Cordero has possession of the famed quilt created by the late Margaret Burleson comprised of vintage Cruise Nite T-shirts that will likely be on display Friday. 

“It just goes to show you,” said Cordero, “Cruise Nite has something for everybody!”

People from as far north as San Luis Obispo and as far south as Orange County as well as from the Bakersfield area display their cars at or just visit Cruise Nite, a perfect evening for dining, snacking and relaxing whether for a date night or family outing.

Cruise Nite, Ventura County’s first regularly staged car show, started with a few short blocks closed to display the pre-1975 cars, but under the direction of event coordinators Aguilar and Anderson the car show quickly grew.

Cruise Nite now draws hundreds of vehicles and thousands of people, a crowd that includes Santa Paula Police Reserves and SPPD Explorers who answer questions for visitors.

Cruise Nite is also a hit on cyberspace: photographers and videographers flock to the event, take pictures or film video for immediate Internet posting, visual invitations for others to come on down and visit Santa Paula.

The Cruise Nite season runs the First Friday of every month and ends with the October car show, returning every April.

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