Will there be Friday night car shows in Thorold this summer?
The team behind the weekly event has decided to move the shows back to the Seaway Mall parking lot in Welland — but former Thorold BIA chair Serge Carpino is adamant that the Thorold shows are here to stay.
Last year's Thorold shows were organized by Cruise Niagara, under the leadership of Rick Robbs. But after Robbs decided to step away, his team started a new organization called Seaway Mall Cruise Nights, led by Peter Bonnette.
Bonnette says it was a no-brainer to bring the shows back to Welland.
“That cruise is nearly 35 years old,” he says, in an interview with ThoroldToday. “On a Friday night our area at the Seaway Mall is 278 parking spaces and sometimes we don’t have enough room. [In Thorold] I think we’re maxed out at 110 cars. Bottom line is that we simply lacked the space.”
That lack of space led to dwindling participation numbers.
“A lot of the guys don’t get off work until 5,” Bonnette says. “By then there was no place left on the street. They just stopped coming because they would drive down to Front Street and you couldn’t park. So they’d go round the block on the corner and get a coffee at Tim Hortons and head home.”
There were also some traffic control issues.
“We did virtually everything ourselves,” says Bonnette. “We even closed off the street. It’s a matter of having the volunteers to do all these things. The volunteers we do have are all getting older. The acrobatics are not our forte anymore.”
By bringing the car shows back to a spacious parking lot, Bonnette hopes the nights will be more carefree and enjoyable.
“One of the major things is that you got to enjoy it,” he says. “It makes money, it supports community and so forth but if you’re not enjoying it, then it starts turning into a job and you quickly lose interest.”
The one thing he’ll miss most about Thorold are the downtown businesses who were so very welcoming.
“It was nice in many ways,” he says. “It was different, it was unique. I enjoyed it.”
ThoroldToday reached out to former BIA chair Serge Carpino for comment, but he denies that the weekly Thorold car shows are going anywhere.
"That's incorrect," he said. "You have misinformation."
Carpino refused to elaborate further.