By the time I arrived back home in Oregon in '96, my hometown of Medford had joined hundreds of other communities in the cycle of banning cruising, then later offering a one-night "cruise" in an effort to draw consumers back to their dying downtown districts. The fact that these so-called cruises were no more than parade routes didn't seem to faze anyone. Baffled, I entered the '96 Medford edition out of curiosity. I found the experience to be better-than-nothing at first, but ultimately hollow, but for a lingering depression. I drove my hot rod to a couple more of these, parked it at the far edge of the event, watched for a while, and drove it home. Then I quit going, altogether.
The participants in these events pay good money to be exploited and seem to have a great time. I'm happy for them. The community also seems to enjoy the show, and it does bring some much needed revenue into town. Today, I have accepted the fact that cruising as I knew it is long gone, period. We've all moved on. Today, garage crawls and caravanning to races are still honest grassroots car activities, and we enjoy several non-lawnchair car gatherings, many featuring driving events. The scene is different, but still kicking. There's plenty to smile about. Just don't call a car show or a parade a "cruise", okay? The dishonesty is too insulting.
And just for the record, while I drool over the cars, I don't care for Cacklefests, either. So there.