‘Cruisin’ leaves no bruisin’

Hefty food donations, few violations at Main Street car event




Donations from Saturday’s crowd-pleasing Cruisin’ the Gut event on Main Street will help fill many empty stomachs.

Phil Medina, a lifelong Vancouver resident who founded the classic car spectacle just two years ago, and other leaders dropped off 3,120 pounds of donated food and $3,127 in cash at the Share House on Sunday.

The totals nearly doubled last year’s take and “far exceeded” his goal, he said on Monday.

“It’s all super-good canned food, and will go toward our hot meal program and each shelter’s hot meal program,” said Katherine Garrett, Share House director for outreach and hot meal programs.

“When you’re feeding 150 to 200 (homeless people) a day, it really helps,” she said.

Medina, who lives in the adjacent Carter Park neighborhood, and his fellow car enthusiasts of the Kamikaze Club based in Damascus, Ore., were tickled with Saturday’s turnout of classic roadsters, sedans, muscle cars, trucks and more.

“It was a phenomenal week,” he said.

He said he couldn’t estimate the total number of participants. Drivers first appeared by late morning and they circulated well on into evening, up and down Main Street, from the Dairy Queen near Fourth Plain Boulevard to Sixth Street downtown.

Admirers set up lawn chairs, perched in pickup beds or sat curbside for the chrome-plated parade of Detroit pride and owner devotion. The DQ, other eateries and shops did great business, while the renovated Kiggins Theater showed free screenings of the 1973 cruising film “American Graffiti.”

Medina believes the 2010 event drew as many as 1,500 vehicles, and observers tell him the size keeps growing.

“I must have blinders on, but everybody who commented on it said there were a lot more than last year. And, last year was huge,” he said.

That was despite Saturday’s rainy start that likely kept some cautious owners away.

A year ago, police citations for reckless driving — issued mainly for rubber-smoking tire “burnouts” — put a damper on Medina’s mood. This time, temporary signs on nearly each block warned drivers against the practice, and the word quickly spread.

Vancouver police officers stepped in to “verbally communicate” rules to several drivers but issued only two citations, said spokeswoman Kim Kapp. That’s down from six-to-eight citations given in 2010.

Medina has repeatedly warned he’ll pull the plug on the cruise if problems arise.

But on Saturday, the traffic sergeant on duty reported a pleasant, peaceful afternoon and evening, Kapp said. About the only problem was several “no burnout” sandwich signs vanishing overnight Friday: new souvenirs for pilferers, apparently.

Kapp reported that the event was “very low” on the police problem list this year, “although there was a lot more people and turnout.”