The "car-ona" cruise

By: 
Alexis Barker

Photo by Walter Sprague/NLJ

On Saturday night, Pam Gualtieri and Mary Romine serve ice cream to cruisers in front of The Antlers Hotel. Gualtieri said that she had to take other steps to help make ends meet. “It’s also been kind of fun seeing everybody drive by. Some really neat cars. And with all the dining rooms closed many people come by for the ice cream.” She said that on Friday night she served 11 gallons of ice cream. On Saturday she served more than 15 gallons. Also pictured are Brandi and Jesse Williams enjoying the delicious treat.

Alexis Barker

NLJ News Editor

 

Three weeks ago Garrett Borton, owner of Renegade Paint and Pipes and an avid car lover, turned to Facebook to encourage the community to get out, take to Main Street and cruise the drag.  

Borton figured that the cruise nights would help to lessen the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic by providing an avenue for people to socialize while keeping their distance. What he never expected, however, was the involvement with the businesses that began this last weekend. 

“Who doesn’t want a snack while they are cruising?” Borton asked. “I got a call from Tammy at the Hi-16 and she said she wanted to open up just for the cruise nights, so I put a bug in people’s ear.” 

According to Borton, other businesses quickly jumped at the opportunity to offer specials or a special service during the cruise hours. 

“This is when the people will be out and about, and I wanted to encourage business at that moment,” Borton said. “I know for a fact that Pam (Gualtieri) at the Antlers sold 26 gallons of ice cream in two nights.” 

Gualtieri, owner of the Antlers, confirmed that she sold 26 gallons over the two evenings, a far greater amount than she had anticipated. 

“It was amazing. It really was,” Gualtieri said. “It was shocking. I had picked out a couple flavors that I thought would be good, and I kept having to go in and get more ice cream.” 

Gualtieri said she found it hard to come up with the exact words to describe what she felt in response to the outpouring of support from the community through this difficult time. 

“It was just plain awesome. Everyone was happy, smiling and thankful. It showed that you can have a good time without the technology of today, and it helped to relive my childhood some,” Gualtieri said. 

According to Gualtieri, the impact of Gov. Mark Gordon’s orders restricting the business of restaurants in an effort to lessen the number of COVID-19 cases in the state has been huge. But she said that she is doing her best to make do and come up with fun ideas to work around the restrictions. 

“The community has really been supportive and keeping us moving. We are always trying to think of what fun thing we can do next,” Gualtieri said. “Not only did the community come together, other businesses did to see what we can do to keep us all going.” 

Borton said he plans to continue promoting the cruise nights while people are being asked to avoid contact with others in public places and hopes that the tradition can continue after life returns to normal. 

“The reality is, this is what we have right now. We are looking around and seeing what resources we have and putting the pieces together so we have something to build out of,” Borton said. “Cruising is not my invention. It is something that was very regular and normal in the older days.”

The car-loving business owner hopes that business owners will continue to use the evenings to promote their businesses by offering specials and curbside service when the town’s activity is at its highest. 

“This is the opportunity for people to come together and be prideful community members while still maintaining social distancing. It is not the save all and doesn’t change the struggles we are all facing, but we have to do what we can and a lot of local businesses have showed that by changing and modifying their services,” Borton said. 

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