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Our View: Cruise Nite deserves a little rev

Our View
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The Auburn City Council, Chamber of Commerce, Old Town and Downtown business associations are rightfully working hard to market Auburn. And it’s working. A beautiful Downtown Streetscape project, a fantastic cooperative effort to host the Amgen Tour of California and other recent successes show the positive momentum. City leaders should ask themselves, what works in Auburn? What successes could we capitalize on in the future to help drive our community’s economic engine? Anyone who has attended a Cruise Nite knows that the Auburn area is in love with nostalgic, pre-1972 classic cars, trucks, hot rods and rock ‘n’ roll. Lincoln Way is packed with families, young and old, the second Friday night of each month throughout the summer. For 25 years, the hard-working Cruise Nite committee has offered an evening of fun on the town for everyone interested in celebrating hot cars, seeing friends and neighbors, having a bite to eat or a cool drink. Why not expand and lure some of the countless thousands headed by on Interstate 80 to stop and check out what out our fair city has to offer, and spend some cash while they are here? In Reno during the summer of 1986, tens of thousands began attending Hot August Nights. The event, aimed at boosting tourism, has been a booming success for 23 years. Top 1950’s and ’60’s entertainers like Wolfman Jack, Jan and Dean, the Righteous Brothers and more entertain while the masses celebrate what to many was a happier time, a simpler time, a kind of “American Graffiti.” Here in Auburn, businesses on the freeway such as In-N-Out Burgers, Ikeda’s and AMPM draw traffic from those headed from the Bay Area and Sacramento to Reno. And they benefit from the tourist dollars of those stopping in Auburn on the way back. But there is no well-organized, concerted effort to offer these classic-car lovers, like those headed to Reno for Hot August Nights, a reason to stay and play in our community, too. How about a volunteer effort including the city, business organizations and Chamber of Commerce aimed at expanding Cruise Nite to Old Town and other Auburn business districts? How about going all weekend long with live outdoor music, vendors and stores that remain open? A parade of cars — or a designated cruise route — could be established. Cash prizes or impressive trophies could be given to the best entries. How about a battle of the bands, a ¼-mile racetrack outside of town or other ideas? Auburn has billed itself as the Endurance Capital of the World. For elite athletes, horses and their immediate circle of friends that’s a big deal. But it hasn’t really caught on with the greater Auburn community. And it really isn’t drawing traffic off of Interstate 80 or Highway 49. To get more bang for our bucks and more return on our volunteer hours, why not put more effort into something we know works in Auburn — our 25-year love affair with classic cars and rock ’n’ roll? Natural sponsors could include Thunder Valley Casino, which just might be persuaded to offer events of its own that would lure gamblers to stay in Placer County, rather than head up the hill to Reno. Or maybe Reno’s Hot August Nights and Auburn’s Super Cruisin’ weekends could happily co-exist and cross-promote? With three of five on the Auburn City Council owning Harley Davidsons, maybe a weekend celebrating motorcycles would work? Auburn should keep up its positive momentum and capitalize on a proven winner by creating and expanding events and activities that celebrate hot rods and rock music. It’s already working, but why not rev it up a little?