Splash: For 31 years, ‘Cruzers’ have cruised down memory lane

Standing before their cars are Street Cruzers, Inc. Car Club members, from left, President Brian Dudek, owner of the red 1950 Chevy 2 ton; Vice President Don Fink, owner of the blue 1939 Chevy Coupe; and Vicky Parsons, owner of the black and gray 1946 GMC. Spectators may spot these members’ cars in the club’s car cruise line up. Hannah Tetzlaff photo

by Hannah Tetzlaff

Cars and trucks can be the vehicles for our memories as they remind us of a beloved relative or a cherished TV show from our childhood.

For Brian Dudek, president of Berlin’s Street Cruzers, Inc.Car Club, his red 1950 Chevy 2 ton is a memento of his grandparents.

“This was my grandpa’s truck,” Dudek said. “He bought it in 1957 out in Lewiston, Idaho and drove it to Wisconsin. It was a farm truck in Redgranite ’til the late ’70s until it got parked. It was a really rusted-out old truck that we pulled out, and it’s something I always wanted. I restored it and now I have something that’s my grandparents’.”

Dudek is not the only one whose vehicle holds stories and memories.

According to club member Bobbie Erdmann, the car club’s annual car show brings together many car enthusiasts whose vehicles are special to them and inspire nostalgia to others.

“People who have cars that they call ‘show cars’ ­[and] that are special to them or that are vintage bring and display them,” Erdmann said. “People from all over come … to see the cars and reminisce. If it’s a vintage car, they reminisce, ‘Oh, my dad had one like that,’ or ‘My grandpa had one like that,’ [and] sometimes take a picture of themselves with the car.”

Spectators who plan to visit the club’s 31st-annual Car Show Aug. 12 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Riverside Park, Berlin, may experience “nostalgia, family memories or just appreciate a beautiful vehicle [because] to us who are car enthusiasts those cars are a work of art,” Erdmann said.

She noted the show was the result of like-minded individuals who appreciated cars and decided to form the Street Cruzers, Inc. Car Club to share their passion.

After a few years, the friends hosted their own car show.

What once began as a small show grew to one of the largest in the area, and according to Erdmann, the “longevity [and] the fact that [it’s been] 31 years and they can still continue to offer this special day [sets this show apart from others].”

Though she has attended the show a few times, she still is anxious to see what new cars may be at the show or if any returning participants have made any changes to their vehicles.

She explained participants pay the $10 fee when they register from 8 am to noon the morning of the show.

Their vehicle may enter one of the 26 classes for a chance to win a trophy for either first, second or third place in their class.

The winners must be present to pick-up their trophies during the awards presentation at 3 p.m.,

Participants and spectators also may enter a 50/50 raffle in hopes of winning the prizes: first place — $1,000; second place ­— $500; third place — $250; and fourth to eighth place — $100 each.

Money the club receives from the raffle is given back to the community through its support of projects and programs around the city such as youth initiatives, the fire and police departments and programs at the hospital.

Erdmann noted the club has invested money in improving the Riverside Park by funding enhancements to the pavilions.

During the car show, the pavilions will host music, food and refreshments.

After eating, visitors may stroll along the River Walk and check out vendors’ stalls.

Erdmann noted the event is a fun, free activity for families and fellow car hobbyists.

“Because it’s free, the family can spend the afternoon or the morning, and not have to spend anything,” she said. “Maybe buy a sandwich if the kids are hungry or popcorn or something and a beverage, but the cost is nothing. You can go there and not have to spend anything and enjoy the day.”

She added children also may play on the park slides and jungle-gym.

Kids and their parents also may join other spectators in voting for “The People’s Choice Award” by filling out a ballot for their favorite car at the show.

Prior to the show on Sunday, the club engages in The Memorial Cruise Saturday, Aug. 11 at 6 p.m.

Club members will line up their cars at 5 p.m. at the Riverside Park in Berlin and drive through town and around the area.

Leading the cruise will be this year’s featured car, a silver 1969 Buick Rivera that can reach a top speed of 130 miles per hour and is owned by member Dean Spielvogel.

For more information on the car, visit the Street Cruzers, Inc. Car Club Facebook page or check out its flyers posted around the area.

Members draw from a hat to see whose car will be featured each year, and if the member’s car isn’t ready that year, then they may choose to be featured another year.

Dudek noted members receive a lot of reactions from drivers and passersby as they cruise down the road.

“You’re going down the road [and] a lot of people honk the horn, wave and give you a thumbs up,” Dudek said.

Club member Vicky Parsons believes participating in the car shows draws people to them and helps people relive childhood memories.

“It brings people to you, so you turn into a real people-person because everybody wants to stop and reminisce … and bring back memories; it’s important to bring back memories for other people,” Parsons said.

After 31 years and still cruising along, club members hope the show continues to draw in many people who love cars and want to revisit cherished memories.

“It’s amazing that an organization stays active in that many years … so it’s a kudos to them and their determination to benefit people of this city at the same time [and]… hopefully [it] continues,” Erdmann said.