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“It was great. Finally got to show the kids what Mom and Dad had been telling them about. They loved it. Way to go,” Chris Kelley posted on Facebook about the “Cruising Main Street” event that brought hundreds of cars and people into downtown Galax last Friday.
It was like old times, said Melissa Russell, who organized the event. Only this time, there were people of all ages — from those who graduated in the 1950s to 20- and 30-somethings to teens and children riding along with moms and dads who used to cruise years ago. For many, it was a family event, as several reminisced about their time as teens and, at the same time, showed their children how the streets of Galax used to be packed, bumper-to-bumper, every Friday and Saturday evening.
“I had never seen it that busy before,” said Russell, who graduated from Carroll County High School in 2002. “It was well beyond what I had seen when I cruised in high school. The lines were so long, people had to drive along the truckers’ route [bypass] and turn around.”
Russell said she saw many familiar faces of those that used to cruise several years ago.
“Many said what a wonderful time they had and how much they loved having those memories back,” said Russell. “People were happy to experience that part of their lives again.”
And, just like old times, many parked at Hardee’s on South Main or just sat along the streets to watch and wave as they saw friends from the past.
Russell said that cruising Main Street was a right of passage for most 16 year olds. However, 2002 — the year that Russell graduated — was the last year for tradition.
A few months ago, Russell and best friend Ashley Guynn were talking over dinner about how much fun they had cruising Main Street in their teen years.
Russell said today’s teens know nothing of cruising Main Street. But for her and her friends, it kept many of them out of trouble.
Cruisers would start out on East Stuart Drive and ride Main Street for hours to visit with friends, show off cars and their sound systems. It was a social gathering for high school students in Carroll County, Grayson County and Galax.
Soon after their conversation, Russell posted on Facebook a “Cruising Main Street” event page, inviting only 90 of those her age that used to cruise Main Street while in high school to partake in a one-night event.
But those friends invited their friends, and their friends invited their friends, until it grew to more than 1,000 people on the Facebook invite list. More than 670 confirmed that they would attend the event.
On the Facebook event page, some shared stories of how they met their spouses while cruising and how driving and parking on Main Street on Fridays and Saturdays was the best part of their high school experience.
“It was totally wonderful to see the great turn out. Reminded me of the good days when we were carefree teens,” Cassie Huffman posted after the event.
“Had a blast! Loved every minute of it! Thanks to my daughter Heather Patton for humoring a nostalgic old woman,” posted Lisa Ann Caudill Patton. “I was driving my Mustang with the top down with Def Leppard on CD... Oh the memories! Cruising Main Street Galax was how me and Ray Patton met in ‘84. We got married in ‘85.”
“I was the hottest 61-year-old in a ‘99 grey Accord, playing the Kruger Brothers,” commented another.
“Can’t wait to show my teenagers what I did when I was one,” said Jennifer Welch, before Friday’s event.
“Cruising Main Street” may become a yearly event, said Russell, who parked her car in Hardee’s parking lot on Friday to watch as friends rolled by.
Galax Police Capt. James Cox said throughout the evening hours, cars were bumper to bumper from East Stuart Drive to the Valero gas station on South Main, and many came off the side roads and several parked and watched.
“When teens cruised years ago, we had problems with litter, reckless driving, assaults, thefts and loud music,” said Cox.
However, police say cruising was never actually outlawed. Parking on Main Street was restricted, but not driving. But around that time, the tradition seems to have ended.
Even though several citations were written for noise and other violations, the crowd was well behaved, Cox said. “Those that used to cruise have matured and brought their families.”