The once-a-month Cruisin’ Rocky Mount events kicked off Labor Day weekend last year, and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, have continued to be a success.
Organized in less than a month, the cruising event attracted hundreds, if not thousands, of motorists through downtown Rocky Mount. In mid-August 2019 a Facebook group, “Cruisin’ Rocky Mount Va” was created and within three weeks, the page had more than 2,100 members. Over the past year, the page has doubled to nearly 4,200 members.
The committee of Jeff Rakes, Fred Jamison, Kimberly Najduch, Ronald Campbell and Jon Snead, who organized the events, has also grown and now includes Anna Prillaman.
Cruisin’ Rocky Mount was started to serve as an economic tool to draw visitors to Rocky Mount businesses.
“We need the businesses to be open,” Snead said. “That is exactly what we are doing it for. If you have 1,000 people in front of your business, why wouldn’t you open?”
He said last fall the restaurants were slammed with business.
Typically lining the streets with lawn chairs, even during the pandemic, spectators can be seen social distancing along Franklin Street downtown.
“It’s great to see and feel the enthusiasm and camaraderie of our community on cruisin’ nights,” said Snead. “It’s inexpensive fun to be a part of.”
As winter months are iffy weather-wise the cruise nights were to be on hiatus between December and March to return with a bang in April. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic hit and a stay-at-home order from Gov. Ralph Northam, the April Cruisin’ Rocky Mount, which was part of the Moonshine Heritage Month festivities, was canceled along with most other events at that time.
Not to be put off forever, Cruisin’ Rocky Mount relaunched in June with cruises through town. Motorists were asked not to gather in large crowds as they had in the fall due to social distancing protocols. Snead estimated participation dropped by 30-40% during the pandemic, but interest is still high.
In celebration of its one-year anniversary, the Rocky Mount Farmers’ Market will host food and retail vendors beginning at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 5, during the Cruisin’ event. The outdoor space will be socially distanced (6 feet apart) to ensure a safe gathering.
Cruisin’ Rocky Mount will also sell exclusive one-year anniversary T-shirts for $20 under the pavilion at the Rocky Mount Farmers’ Market.
Cruisin’ planner Kimberly Najduch added, “We’re so appreciative of the support of the town, the local businesses, the community and all the car enthusiasts that journey out each month to cruise.”
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