Riccardo Sestito has been with the Langley Good Times Cruise-In right from the start, and vows one day he will write a book about everything he’s experienced.
“You don’t sleep for the whole weekend when you are on the Cruise-In board,” Sestito laughed. “When you’re up during those hours, you see some things…”
He started off as a participant, entering his 1965 Mustang in the very first Cruise-In held in 1997. Sestito remembers the inaugural car show as absolute mayhem.
“Only a few hundred I think were expected to show up, but there were upwards of 800,” he said. “Restaurants ran out of food.”
The Cruise-In was started by a handful of merchants hoping to revitalize Langley’s downtown core.
Sestito said there was nothing comparable to the ambition of Cruise-In, which apparently adopted its format from a similar show in Saskatoon.
The following year, Sestito took the position of risk manager, bringing his insurance and airshow planning experience to help the Cruise-In with netter safety procedures for its guests.
In the years that followed the experimental and formative early few were when Sestito felt the show really took shape. He recalled a buzz that people could feel when the annual weekend approached.
“Businesses would put up signs saying ‘get ready for Cruise-In.’ It was something everyone seemed to look forward to,” Sestito explained. “Langley was like Mayberry – you would walk down the street and know everyone.”
The Cruise-In started in Langley City and eventually grew to stretch through much of the downtown area, also featuring for several years a cruise on Friday night to the Twilight Drive-In in Aldergrove.
Sestito noted the introduction of a chili cook-off that eventually evolved into what is now a swap meet. A beer gardens came and went after the mixture of alcohol and vehicles was seen as a bad idea. The incorporation of an In-N-Out Burger truck got food fanatics racing for the line-up.
True vindication came when Dennis Gage brought his TV show My Classic Car in 2000, featuring the Cruise-In and dubbing it one of the top 10 in North America.
”We get cars from New York and California now – even people flying over from England come for Cruise-In,” Sestito said.
The most signification alteration came when Aldergrove became the Cruise-In host site instead of Langley in 2017. Though that move did significantly change the show’s layout, Sestito said good things can certainly come from hosting the event.
“It reminds me of Langley when we first started; empty businesses that were transformed. It’s totally different in Langley now and I see it happening for Aldergrove. Hype is starting there,” he said.
Why this annual car show has not only survived for nearly a quarter century, but become a celebrated staple amongst car-lovers world-wide has everything to do with the people that have kept it going.
“It’s all non-profit. We have about 200 volunteers and no one is getting paid to do this.” Sestito said. “And it’s always evolving. The biggest challenge is keeping it fresh.”
Still fresh from it’s Aldergrove move, the Langley Good Times Cruise-In is expected to showcase nearly 1,000 vehicles.
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