Group seeking sponsorships to keep cruise nights going

Classic Car Cruise Nights will roll on later this month in Encinitas, but Encinitas 101 Main Street is looking for sponsorship funding to ensure the future of the summer events.

Cruise nights — featuring live bands and pristine classic cars — have long been held on two vacant downtown Encinitas lots. However, impending development on the properties will ultimately displace the events, leading Encinitas 101 to look for an alternative location.

A solution came in the way of closing portions of F, G and H Streets during event hours to accommodate the cars, a plan that the Encinitas City Council approved on April 20.

Thora Guthrie, Encinitas 101’s executive director, said last week the nonprofit is seeking $10,000 to $11,000 this year in sponsorships to offset the cost of traffic plans, signs and barricades. Sponsorships can be as little as $150 to help pay for live music.

The fundraising campaign is off to a good start — O’Reilly Auto Parts recently pledged $4,500, according to Guthrie.

She said cruise nights will remain at one of the two long-time lots this summer, but neither of the spaces will be available in future years, so the need for sponsorships will grow.

Cruise nights will take place at the Encinitas Smog parking lot through September. But soon after, that building will be torn down to make way for a mixed-use project with a larger footprint.

The parking lot in front of Coastal Furniture has also hosted Cruise Nights, yet that will be replaced with a two-story bank sporting an underground parking garage. May 19 will mark the last time the event is at that spot.

Cruise nights will be held May to September on the third Thursday of each of those months, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

During those hours, F, G and H Streets will be closed, between Coast Highway 101 to the alley near Second Street (the alley and Highway 101 will stay open).

Each cruise night typically draws about 4,000 people to the area.

"The number of people who show up speaks to how much the community loves it," Guthrie said.

Guthrie said besides being popular with the community and visitors, the events give surrounding businesses a nice boost.

At the April 20 council meeting, five businesses sent letters to the council supporting the partial road closures, with one resident opposed. A city traffic analysis found that the plan should not have a significant impact on traffic, businesses or residents in the downtown area.

Volunteer event coordinator Doug Jones in an email said Encinitas 101 wants each cruise season to pay for itself. He also stated the events are like "cruisin’ in a postcard."

"Which is indicative of the many drivers and others’ experiences as they come into and leave downtown, aside the sands and seas of the beautiful blue pacific," Jones wrote.

Businesses interested in sponsoring the events can contact Encinitas 101 at 760-943-1950.

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