Justin Schmeltz of Perrysburg takes advantage of the chance to photograph a 1970 Porsche 911. Rick Ruffner, who organized the events, said the cruise-ins have brought outside money to Perrysburg.
The O Deer Diner has organized and jump-started a car cruise-in event on Friday nights on the Commodore Schoolyard across the street from the ice cream shop that has been growing in popularity and bringing in people to Perrysburg.
The car cruise-in, which could become a weekly event, has been bringing in hot rods, muscle cars, and classic cars to the lawn of the schoolyard to be shown off. For the first event, June 14, 90 registered cars were brought in. A week later, 120 cars came.
“The first week 65 cars out of the 90 were from out of town,” said diner owner Rick Ruffner. “If there are two people in a car, that is 130 people coming to our town to spend money.”
He said in the second week, 85 of the 120 cars were from out of town. On June 28, Mr. Ruffner canceled the event because of rain, not wanting to tear up the schoolyard’s lawn.
The land is owned by the Perrysburg Schools, and is next to the district's administration building. Superintendent Tom Hosler approved the lawn’s use for four weeks. At the last school board meeting, some board members were concerned about possible cigarette smoking on school grounds and where to draw the line for public use of district facilities or open areas.
Louis Garcia of Perrysburg dusts off his 1962 Chevy Impala at the O-Deer Diner cruise-in event. Ninety car owners participated in the first cruise-in while 120 came to the second.
Mr. Hosler said he is evaluating complaints, possible damage to the lawn, trash issues, and interference with staff through the four weeks before he determines whether to allow the cruise-ins to continue. Mr. Ruffner said he would like to run the event through October.
“The feedback I’ve gotten is positive,” Mr. Hosler said. “Local businesses are very happy with the added traffic and residents have enjoyed walking there. I’ve been happy with the event. I’m in favor of events that help the community and businesses. There are some nice old cars to walk around and see.”
O Deer Diner, an ice cream shop, is not the only downtown Perrysburg business benefiting from the weekly event. Mr. Ruffner said he distributed $220 in gift cards from local businesses as door prizes to folks who brought cars to the event and signed in. Also, half the proceeds from a 50/50 raffle go to Perrysburg High School’s After Prom Committee, which raised nearly $300 in two weeks.