More than 3,000 customs, classic cars and trucks have motored into town for the 32nd annual Cruisin’ Ocean City car festival that started yesterday and runs until Sunday afternoon at the inlet parking lot and the convention center.
Cruisin’ OC reached its maximum number of pre-registered cars last week, but interested enthusiasts can still stop by the convention center to see if any spots have become available, according to Special Events Productions Inc.
Spectator can tour the event grounds for $15 a day and $10 on Sunday. Event hours run from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. through Saturday, while the show goes from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.
Sisters Meredith Herbert and Jacklyn Lehr are promoting the event with long-time family friend and local promoter Bob Rothermel. Herbert and Lehr’s father Jack Hennen started Cruisin’ OC with Rothermel but has since retired, putting the sisters in the metaphorical driver’s seat.
“We really enjoy seeing the multi-generational families coming. A lot of our participants either started coming in with their parents or grandparents and now are coming in with kids of their own,” Herbert said.
This year would’ve marked the 33rd annual event, but the car show went virtual in 2020 because of covid and wasn’t counted.
Participants hail from more than 20 states, and with cars also coming from as far as England and Canada to participate in the main events at the inlet lot and convention center, Herbert said.
Inside the convention center, visitors can browse through the cars that are up for sale at the car corral, and they can buy and trade car parts with fellow motorheads at the swap meet.
Spectators can also visit the convention center all day today to vote on their favorite cars in the Artwork Contender Showcase. There, participants are competing for their car to be featured on future Cruisin’ OC artwork like banners and T-shirts.
Gateway Classic Cars has also parked a pop-up at the convention center, along with a variety of vendors both inside and out.
Down at the inlet, a wide array of auto parts vendors and car-related businesses have set up shop, like Advance Auto Parts, Barrett-Jackson, Bruno’s Classic Muscle and Classic Auto Mall. There are also a variety of non-vehicle related business booths from insurance agencies, BluBlockers, T-Mobile and Xfinity.
Smaller satellite events are popping up around the city, including the Pinup Contest at Pier 23 in West OC tonight at 8 p.m. and a Neon and LED Light Car Show on South First Street tomorrow night.
While the event officially began Thursday, there were a few opening events on Wednesday, including a Car Club Social at Pit & Pub on 28th Street and a welcome party at Seacrets.
This year Cruisin’ OC has teamed up with the Make a Wish Foundation, Herbert said. Proceeds from different fundraisers around town will go to benefit the foundation.
Several big names in car-culture history are visiting this year. Mackenzie Phillips and Candy Clark from American Graffiti are in town to celebrate the movie’s 50th anniversary. The two made their first visit to the convention center yesterday and are coming back today before they move on to the inlet parking lot tomorrow.
Replica cars from the movie are on display in the convention center and will travel with the actors to the inlet.
Other special guests include Joe and Amanda Martin from the show Iron Resurrection, who are coming to the beachside inlet today.
Yesterday marked the first of three Cruisin’ OC Boardwalk parades, and this morning any and all registered cars whose owners want to participate can meet on 27th Street to join the parade.
Starting at 8 a.m., a trail of cars will slowly travel in-line down the Boardwalk to the inlet parking lot. The final parade is at the same time tomorrow morning.
Music will fill the air at both main Cruisin’ hubs, with DJ Seaside Jimmy playing the convention center parking lot today and tomorrow and Cruisin’ Gold DJ Mike Wilson at the inlet today through Sunday. Luke Jones, who makes beats music, will play his second day inside the convention center today before moving to the inlet tomorrow.
For the first time ever, a Husband Calling Contest will be held at the inlet today at 1:30 p.m.
“That’s going to be a pretty funny event,” Herbert said.
There is also one more drive-in movie at the inlet tonight at 9 p.m., and a pedal-car showcase at the inlet tomorrow at 4 p.m.
“A little bit of everything. Some (pedal cars) are custom made. Some are antiques,” Herbert said.
Cruisin’ OC will wrap up with the grand finale awards at the inlet on Sunday at 2 p.m. More than 500 trophies, plaques and awards will be up for grabs along with some 3,000 giveaways. Among the greatest honors are the Mayor’s Award, Police Chief Award, City Council President Award and the Town of Ocean City Top Award.
National sponsors and local businesses also select cars for awards under their names.
“It’s really neat to be the car enthusiast and bringing their family, their different families to the events, and just learning the history about the different vehicles,” Herbert said.
For additional information, visit www.cruisinoceancity.com or call 410-798-6304.
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