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When you turned 16, cruising Main Street in Galax became a right of passage, said Melissa Russell, who graduated from Carroll County High School in 2002.
That's the last year the weekend tradition took place, she said.
A few months ago, Russell and her best friend, Ashley Guynn, were talking over dinner about how much fun they had cruising Main Street in their teen years.
Soon after, Russell posted this Facebook status — “I wonder if we set a date for cruising Main Street, would anyone come?”
“People began commenting about the memories they had cruising Main Street, and someone suggested that we make an event page on Facebook,” said Russell. “I invited 90 people that I went to high school with, and then they sent invitations to their friends to cruise Main Street on the date we set.”
More than 1,000 people have been invited, and there are more than 550 confirmed guests on Facebook for this Friday's “Cruising Main Street” event, from those who graduated in the 1960s to today's teens.
On the Facebook event page, some share 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.
“Spent summers in Galax growing up. One of my favorite things was cruising Main Street. Made for some great memories,” commented one individual on Facebook.
“If it weren't for that, I wouldn't be getting ready to celebrate my 11 year wedding anniversary to my wonderful husband,” someone commented.
“Thanks to cruising Main Street in Galax I meet my hubby,” said another. “We have been together 13 years this July and now we have three great kids.”
“My 16-year-old cousin doesn't even know what cruising Main Street is,” said Russell. “And it's too bad, because we had a lot of fun times. It kept most of us out of trouble on Friday and Saturday. We would start out on East Stuart Drive and ride Main Street for hours and hours to meet with friends and play our music.”
Russell said cruising was a huge social gathering for high school students in Carroll County, Grayson County and Galax. Back then, it was a sign of freedom for teens, “but your parents always knew where you were because they did the same thing in high school,” said Russell.
“It was a way for us to show off our cars and [sound] systems,” she said. “Cruising is something that has been passed down through the generations: we did it and our parents did it, and then it stopped. This one night will be a time to step back in time and enjoy that part of their lives again.”
Russell said she doesn't know why the tradition stopped.
Isn't cruising illegal, someone asked on the Facebook page.
“We frown upon fighting, driving reckless, speeding, running over each other with cars, drinking underage, driving drunk, littering, radios so loud that it keeps people who live there from hearing their television or sleeping, etc.,” replied Galax Police Capt. James Cox. “If people act like they should, they should have no problem with cops. Ride on any street in Galax and respect others and no one will have a problem with it. We just want everyone to be happy.”
Russell said this event was meant for one night — just to see familiar faces and recapture the memories, “but if it leads to bringing it back, that would be great. Kids around here would have something to do and could make their own memories.”
The event is set to begin at 8 p.m. Friday.
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