by Morley Lymburner – Sauble Beach Sunset Cruisers
The inaugural Sauble Beach Sunset Cruisers Bruce Peninsula Run held Sunday, August 9th, was a resounding success with local counts of 373 classic and specialty cars participating in the event and gate tolls collected totalled $2,754 with proceeds to two local charities.
The best statistic, however, was the thousands of folks on the roadsides and the residents of two nursing homes who came out to enjoy the view and make noise of appreciation for essential service workers. Horns of hundreds of cars could be heard along the entire route from Port Elgin to Lion’s Head and back to Wiarton. Good weather ensured a good turnout of both cars and people.
The “slow stroll” started from four locations at 1:00 PM sharp. Show organizers, Morley Lymburner, Brenda Denny and Dennis McGuinness selected The Sauble Beach Community Centre as the gathering place for the 178 vehicles that showed up for the 1:00 PM start. As the cars moved out however, they found their progress was slowed by the large number of beach-goers at the lights.
The most southerly point, managed by Dave Middleton, was from The Plex in Port Elgin with a count of 117 vehicles winding their way north through Southampton and the Saugeen First Nation to Sauble Beach. The delay at the Sauble traffic light made for a merging of the two groups and created a line of classic cars stretching from Sauble Beach to just past North Oliphant road at one point. Of course, the slow progress also meant local viewers had more time for closer viewing of these great vehicles.
From the Wiarton Keppel International Airport, 44 vehicles, managed by event coordinator Gary Johnston, moved westerly and did a slow stroll past the Gateway Haven Home before continuing along the Oliphant Road and joining up with the long line of cars moving north.
In a last minuted change, due to the length of the traffic flow, Lion’s Head Coordinator Carl Kitchen was notified that his route, starting from the Lion’s Head Arena, should be reversed. The 34 vehicles from the Lion’s Head group slow-strolled through the town and around the parking lot of the Golden Dawn Nursing Home where they were greeted by a large gathering of residents and staff cheering them on. The group then moved out toward Pike Bay. It was a “honking good time” when these southbound members met with the northbound group around Howdenvale. They quickly realized how long the line was and understood the need for a last minute change of direction. This, unfortunately, caused quite a delay for folks on the East Road patiently awaiting the parade.
Some of the northbound vehicles stopped for a washroom and ice cream stop at the General Store in Howdenvale. News of the long line coming north encouraged the organizers to push on toward Lion’s Head.
The average speed of the slow stroll north from Sauble was around 50 km/h with some drops to 40 km/h going through built up areas. A real challenge for many of the older vehicles was to keep their engines from overheating at a slower pace. This was alleviated once the group began their easterly trek along Pike Bay Road and then Highway 6 running north toward Ferndale where normal speeds up to 80 km/h helped many get their temperatures down.
Going north on Hwy. 6 was a challenge to consider for organizers. With almost 400 classic cars going north, and the melding with the heavier traffic both north and south, a plan was in order and executed with great effect. The lead car and others in the group flashed their headlights at southbound cars. Of course, this is the universal “radar ahead” warning used in past years and it worked extremely well. One southbound vehicle in particular was seen dodging into the northbound lane to pass and noticed the flashing headlights of the lead car far off and quickly ducked back in line. Neat little trick and something everyone can consider when they want to control speeders on their own local streets. Just remember… “A quick flash stops the dash!”
Lion’s Head residents have never seen a traffic jam before but, around 2:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, they were greeted with one as almost 400 classic cars came to town with most parking on Main Street for a 15 to 20 minute break. A good number filled the Golden Dawn nursing home parking lot with waiting residents cheering and applauding each car as they entered. Smiles and laughter filled the air as many drivers took the time to chat and greet folks on the sidewalks. Everyone in the nursing home lot were conscious of social distancing as comments and memories were shared.
The Lead Show Marshal wore a reflective vest and ensured motorists were informed where to park and supplied with the more delicate information as to where to find a washroom, coffee, ice cream, and the ever important butter tarts.
At around 3:00 p.m., a long blast of the Pace Car’s horn was heard as the entourage announced their departure on the southward trek to Wiarton by way of the East Road to the village of Colpoy’s Bay.
The routes selected include some of the most picturesque parts of the Bruce Peninsula. The charm of Pike Bay is reminiscent of a typical Maritime fishing village while Lion’s Head retains its historical charms reflecting the region’s early years of fishing and lumbering. The winding East road, however, is much different. It took the vehicles past farm lands carved out of rock and bush by hardy pioneers eking out an existence and lifestyle not even imagined today. Many of the older motorists can recall the harsh days of stooking hay and clearing fields to make room for homes and growing families. Something that can be attested to by Ted Youngs, the most senior participant at 90 years of age. Ted drove from Kitchener, Ontario, with his 2009 Porsche Boxter.
Large gatherings of people greeted the entourage as it glided by the deep waters of Colpoy’s Bay. The challenges of the Berford Street road closure was well publicized and detours directed the flow through Wiarton Streets to Gateway Haven where the large number of vehicles took a slow stroll past the home or detoured through the front driveway. Most of the residents enjoyed the vehicles from the front entrance or the viewing decks. Many smiling faces and waving hands greeted the motorists.
The final dispersal area was at the Wiarton Keppel International Airport where management had groomed a large reception area for the motorists to park and enjoy a meet and greet. Plans for this were organized by Airport Manager Zach Premate and Chef Crystal Hindman of the Hungry Hangar Restaurant.
Although the 2020 limited version of this event came off with only a few problems, many lessons have been learned.
“In the future we hope to make this event more experiential than an actual parade,” said event organizer Morley Lymburner. “We will encourage folks to invite friends and neighbours over for an afternoon party where they can relax and enjoy the classic cars as they go by over a two to three hour period on a summer Sunday afternoon. For classic car owners they too can invite friends and neighbours to ride along. Viewing these cars on the move is the only way to truly appreciate them in their natural environment. Do not think of them as cars but rather metal art or moving monuments preserved as a salute to our forefathers.”
This event was planned as a tribute to all the front line workers who have worked tirelessly on our behalf in a very challenging year. “Covid-19 has been a cruel master of our lives for the past six months,” says Lymburner. “This event is seen, in a small way, as a challenge to the human spirit and its ability to overcome adversity.”
Everyone has accepted the reality of social distancing through cancellations of many events. Charities in particular have been faced with a challenging year for fund raising. This is why the benefactors of the funds go out to Grey Bruce Crime Stoppers and the Sauble Beach Lion’s Club. Anyone wishing to show their appreciation for this event, and would like a tax receipt, are encouraged to make a donation by going to https://www.crimestop-gb.org or writing a cheque to your local Lion’s Clubs.