“Let it rain,” said director Riccardo Sestito of the Langley Good Times Cruise-In, a phrase he’s never uttered before in his life during this time of year. “Around this time, we’d always be getting nervous about what the weather was going to do.”
There’ll be no Cruise-In this September, a decision that was made back in early July due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Usually this time of year I’m tied up, but now we’re at quite the standstill,” Sestito said. “We haven’t washed any cars or even taken them out.”
The annual display of cars has survived for nearly a quarter century, with hundreds of volunteers facilitating a lineup of hundreds of new and restored cars in support of Langley charities.
The only other cancellation of the Cruise-In was in 2010, after controversy ensued over burnouts occurring that same weekend in Langley City.
Though the director used the word “lost” to describe how he’s feeling without Cruise-In, Sestito was still in good spirits.
“I’m getting a lot more yard work done,” he admitted.
Unlike some large-scale events that have turned to virtual means in order to keep going, there is nothing scheduled for Sept. 12.
Seeing as how the Canada/U.S. border remains closed, Sestito said there would be no way fixtures like In and Out Burger, based in California, could have attended anyway.
“Everyone’s forgotten,” the director said. “We still wanted to put the show on – but there is too much at play. People are so entrenched in COVID and masks and social distancing; other things are weighing down on people’s minds.”
He noticed a few car clubs trying to gather people for coffee or a social distance show and shine, but ones like what happened on Friday evenings outside Army and Navy in Langley City got far too big.
“More close circles are still happening and getting together,” he said.
Jodi Steeves, president of the Aldergrove Business Association, called the cancellation of Cruise-In a huge loss for the community,
“We we’re finally getting into the groove of things and working out all the bumps,” she said. “So it’s a huge loss because we would have gotten so many visitors. It’s a huge event a nice way for people to come see how Aldergrove is changing.”
While Steeves said nothing could quite replace the impact of Cruise-In, the business association is planning to launch several promotions this fall to get people visiting and shopping around Aldergrove.
The one aspect that is still open and active is the charitable aspect of Cruise-In; people can donate via a PayPal link at http://langleycruise-in.com.
“Money gets donated the same way through vehicle registration. Right now we are seeing if participants want a refund or to forgo their payment,” Sestito explained, adding that whatever is left will be dispersed evenly to charities.
Sestito said the same charities as last year – Langley Community Services Society and Aldergrove’s Valley Therapeutic Equestrian Society (VTEA) – will again be the 2020 recipients.
VTEA director Lynn Moseley said everyone at the non-profit loves Cruise-In and was sorry to see the cancellation.
“I can only imagine how hard it was for them to make that call,” Moseley said. “But it hasn’t changed our relationship at all. It is hard has a non-profit to not get that support, but a lot of our donors have stepped up to help and fill that gap.”
The Aldergrove-based equine-assisted therapy organization temporarily closed due to COVID-19, but re-opened in mid-June to offer limited programming.
“This is our new abnormal,” Moseley said, “but I believe we’ll get passed this. We’ve pivoted to a different therapy to provide a mental health space to help with anxiety and depression.”
Mosely said people can still help fill the void created by absence of Cruise-In by donating directly to VTEA or even signing up to lend a helping hand in the barns.
“We’re always in need of people to walk along with the riders and we do have staff who offer training,” she explained.
The next training session for new volunteers is 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12 – 3350 256 St.
“We’re already planning next year,” Sestito added, assuring that it will be business as usual that he and other participants are very much looking forward to. “I’ve had more time to reflect on things and come up with new ideas now that there’s no time crunch.”
The director laughed and advised people to grab their lawn chair and still sit along the sidewalk on Sept. 12, even without classic cars to admire.
“Hopefully we get the rain all over and done with this year so the next couple Cruise-Ins have good weather,” he said.
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