The Hot Nights and Hot Cars cruise-in series will be returning to downtown Pilot Mountain Saturday, following a familiar format that is expected to fill the area with cars and crowds.
Beginning with May, cruise-in events will be featured on the first Saturday afternoon and evening of each month through October. Announced hours are 3-9:30 p.m. but, because of the events popularity, downtown streets usually begin to fill by noon or before. Classic and spectator vehicles continue to make their way into town throughout the afternoon.
The expected large turn-outs have led organizers to take an off-season look at ways to improve traffic flow. Chairman Jerry Venable of the host group Mount Pilot Now has offered a suggestion the group believes will help alleviate some of the congestion.
“We’re asking people to use the bypass more,” he explained. “Rather than going down Main Street and then turning around to head back, we’re hoping to see more people circle around. This will keep traffic moving and hopefully help with some of the lines of waiting cars.”
This year’s events will feature a diverse array of favorite beach music bands mixed with others that will be making their first Pilot Mountain appearance.
Scheduled bands in order of appearance are The Part Time Party Time Band, The Entertainers, The Castaways, The Extraordinaires, Blackwater Rhythm and Blues Band and The North Tower Band. Scheduled start time for all concerts is 5:30 p.m.
The legendary Part Time Party Time Band will be making a return to Pilot Mountain after an absence of several years due to scheduling and weather conflicts. Since 1980, the band has been an East Coast favorite for live shows while also being recognized for album sales.
The group has received Carolina Beach Music Awards nominations for Best Group, Album of the Year, Entertainer of the Year and Best Blues Song. In 2013 The Part Time Party Time Band was inducted into the Carolina Beach Music Awards Hall of Fame.
“We’re glad to have them back after several years,” Venable noted. “They’ve been doing this well for a long time and we’re looking forward to a great show.”
Groups will again be featured on the Depot Street or “Gasoline Alley” stage. Lawn chairs are encouraged for listening comfort.
For many, the day is all about the cars. Owners of antique, classic, street rod, pro street and muscle cars will again be invited to bring their vehicles downtown to either park or cruise. Special lots will be designated for classic vehicle parking.
A courtesy park and ride trolley service will again be offered with periodic downtown stops throughout the afternoon. Shuttles will be carrying attendees from the two Key Street PART park-and-ride lots to the downtown area and later returning them to their cars. The #1 lot is located behind PNC Bank while the #2 lot is beside Surrey Bank & Trust.
New commemorative event t-shirts will be available on Saturday. Among the list of other returning features will be a display each month of one of the Richard Petty Museum’s historic Petty racing cars.
Also featured at each event will be the Advance Automotive classic car of the month. A favorite vehicle will be selected each month for display on Depot Street.
Other featured activities will include a 50/50 drawing, with ticket-holders also entered into a drawing for a diamond dinner ring, courtesy of Gilley’s Jewelers. Drawings will take place from the main stage at 8:30 and winners must be present.
“We’re getting a lot of calls,” Venable said, “with folks coming in from the coast, Virginia and South Carolina. We’re looking for a large crowd. After the winter, everybody is ready to bring their cars out, see other folks and have a good time. We always see lots of familiar faces and some new ones and we’re eager to see who shows up this year.”