A Maple City Motorcade – La Porte celebrates its 2nd Saturdays! Cruise Night with Vintage Cars and Downtown Festivities

By: Paige Pope Last Updated: June 15, 2014

One of the largest events of its kind, La Porte’s 2nd Saturdays! Cruise Night welcomed community members of all ages to come and experience a classic car procession - colorful, boastful, and one-of-a-kind!

With 600 registered vehicles, there was no shortage of “cool” car eye-candy for the spectators who lined the streets in lawn chairs and blankets, applauding the automobiles of yesteryear as they slowly rolled by. Muscle cars, sleek classics, and street machines…all roared along timelessly, almost effortlessly, in a salute to a century when style took precedence and simplicity garnered attention.

La Porte resident Gary S. commented, when asked if he had attended cruise night in the past, “Oh yeah! Lots of times. It’s something to do and I like the old cars.”

Connie and Pat French are classic car owners themselves, and were just as excited about the cruise as Gary S. and other residents, though they are fairly new transplants to the area: “We’ve only been in town three years, but cruise night is just great. It’s great to see all the cars come down the street. We’ve got cars of our own but we prefer to watch. It’s all hot rods and antiques. It’s just nice to see history.”

When asked what he thought was special about the vintage vehicles, Pat commented, “A lot of the cars, us old guys couldn’t afford when we were kids, but now we can. So I guess it’s like getting our childhood back.”

Apart from indulging in the nostalgia of the evening, onlookers also paid visits to many of La Porte’s restaurants, bars, and shops, which traditionally stay open later on 2nd Saturdays!, offering patio dining and street-side views of the cruise.

In an effort to encourage locals and visitors to stroll the downtown area, places like Top Skillet Café, T-Berry’s Diner, and Smitty’s Southern Style BBQ offered free samples, as well as other cruise night promotions.

The owners of Smitty’s Southern Style BBQ, Alvin and Lisa Smith, admitted that this was their first time serving at cruise night, but that their business was growing in popularity due to the locals frequenting their food trailer during the week. They took the time to introduce me to their family and led me on a tour through their self-built restaurant on wheels, equipped with smokers, grills, and southern charm! As they do with every customer, the Smiths offered a sampling of their BBQ pork and brisket, coupled with sweet and spicy dipping sauces.

Said Alvin, “I’m a firm believer when you eat BBQ, you should taste the meat, the seasoning, the sauce and the smoke, all equally. One shouldn’t overpower the other. That’s how I do BBQ.”

It wasn’t difficult to see the pride the Smiths have in their BBQ business, and the hard work they’ve put into serving their customers, much like the pride of the car owners, who sat smiling and waving as they drove along La Porte’s Lincolnway road. They all seemed happy to play a part in uniting the community, something the co-founder of 2nd Saturdays, Thaddeaus Cutler, truly believes in.

“The cool thing,” Thaddeus states, “[is that] the organizers of the cruise night, used to hold their cruise night on the first Saturday of the month. Eventually, it switched over to the 2nd Saturday. Now that it’s linked up with it, it’s become a bigger event! They’re driving up and down the streets in a very vibrant town. The two events blend together so well - they benefit each other. People from out of town get to see a vibrant town, and those in La Porte get to see what other folks have brought here.”

Being an out of towner myself, Thaddeus’s words rang true. On cruise night, residents and visitors alike, lit up the evening with their vibrancy and excitement for an annual event that was indeed, very cool. 

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