Downtown Bellefonte Bellefonte , Pennsylvania 16823
For 30 years now, the Bellefonte Cruise has been the official unofficial kickoff for summertime in Centre County. No Bellefonte kids remember a time when the Cruise didn't usher in the long, warm days of June. Heck, no Bellefonte college students remember a time like that either. Fact is, the Cruise, which is all about celebrating a bygone era when circling the block in your hot rod or muscle car was a rite of passage for American youth, has somehow also taken on the role of an entirely different kind of nostalgia.
See, these days more and more local kids are growing up with the Bellefonte Cruise as a part of their life that has a much different link to the past than it did in the beginning. As they grow older, these kids who have Known the Cruise their whole lives will find themselves nostalgic in a way we may not have seen coming. Nostalgic not for the good old days of their grandparents (or… gasp!… their great-grandparents') 1950's, but rather nostalgic for all the days they recall standing on High Street in the glorious sun, a 7-year-old enamored with glint and shine of one legendary vehicle after another passing them by, the drivers waving, smiles all around.
It may sound a little hokey, I guess, but so what. That's the charm of nostalgia, right? We feel immensely connected to something that transports deep parts of us to a time long past. In some aspects, nostalgia awakens glorious departments we closed down long ago. Or at least thought we did.
The Bellefonte Cruise is more than just an antique car show, of course. So much more, in fact. Yet, there remains a magic element to the slow cruising of all those restored cars, to all that highly polished 20th century steel shining out by the courthouse under the 21st century sun. And so even though there are a ton of other elements to the Cruise… the sock hop featuring "The Best of American Graffiti" from 7:30 PM to 10 PM Friday; the "Beach Party Boys" and Nashville recording artist Dale Keller shows happening n Saturday; the food; the festivities; the unique camaraderie that rises up out of Central Pennsylvania summer gatherings that makes them unlike anything else anywhere in the world… the truth is: the Cruise was dreamed up as a place to show off cool old cars. And that very notion remains at the heart of it all all these years later.
Gathered to let loose a bit, to forget regular lives for a few hours- heck, maybe even for an entire weekend- locals and people from far-flung places have been flocking here for decades now, once a year, right as summer comes strolling around the bend, to feel connected to things greater than we can possibly explain.
Yeah, this event is about as good a place as any to stand beside a perfectly-restored '57 Chevy. And it's a pretty perfect setting to sip a lemonade and watch people dance to the Motown Sound. And if you're looking for a small section of Earth where you can stand there and hold your young son or daughter in your arms, raise them above the crowd, so that they can see just what old beautiful ride is honking such a funny horn, well, you won't find many better.
Most of all though, the Bellefonte Cruise is a place you probably keep coming back to because you have to. It's like you don't even have a choice; you're drawn back by some internal force you can't argue with, and you don't want to. Drawn back to these streets at this time of year because it reminds you of something, of someone, of somewhere you kind of lost sight of in the last year.
That's what staring at our past does for us. It moves us, again and again, in ways that are hard to describe. It's the hot dogs and the oldies and the flames painted on the wheel wells, you know? And besides, this may be the best last place on Earth- or at least in this county- to feel like you've traveled back in time.
Wherever you need to go to feel it all again, there's a very good chance that you can connect with again if you make the scene, start letting the Cruise do its thing.
I guess what I'm really trying to say is: "Hello, Summer. Welcome home. Now, come on in."
Friday, June 15th - Open Cruise - 6:00–7:30pm, with the sock hop finishing up the night from 8:00-10:00pm.
Saturday, June 16th - Car show kicks off at 7:00am and runs all day.
Sunday, June 17th - Soap Box Derby from Noon - 5:00pm at Allegheny St. and Howard St.
Visit www.bellefontecruise.org to learn more.
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