republished from the Kearney HUB.
By MIKE KONZ Hub Enterprise Editor
KEARNEY — Cruise Nite won’t be held on the third weekend of July, as it has for more than 25 years.
Instead, organizers are postponing the popular five-day automobile festival until Oct. 13-18.
Like so many events and celebrations, the scheduling change became necessary because of the coronavirus outbreak, Cruise Nite Chairman Brad Kernick said.
“Our steering committee met last week and figured we probably needed to pick a lane. The October weekend seemed to be a good option without a lot of competing events,” Kernick said about the decision to postpone.
He said there aren’t other car festivals that weekend, the Loper football team will be at Emporia State, and the Nebraska Cornhuskers have a bye week.
The 2020 Cruise Nite originally was planned for July 14-19. The rescheduled event hopefully will have all of the same events that were planned in July, Kernick said.
After deciding to postpone, he said the next step is to gain City Hall’s approval for the new dates. Then organizers for the various events will need to sign off on the change, Kernick said.
That’s a long list of attractions and happenings that includes a classic car auction, drive-by of Kearney nursing homes, tours of Blueprint Engines, barbecues, entertainment, two major show and shines, a burnout contest and drag racing.
A traditional favorite of Cruise Nite fans is the Saturday show and shine on the bricks in downtown Kearney. The 500 or more vehicles displayed during that event, along with the food court and demonstrations, fill downtown streets with car aficionados.
“It’s our big day. We’ve had in excess of 500 cars,” Kernick said.
The other big attraction is the Saturday afternoon burnout contest.
Kernick said it’s difficult to anticipate the effect the coronavirus outbreak or postponing Cruise Nite might have on crowd size. “We don’t know what to expect with this pandemic. It could scare some people. It won’t be our biggest year ever, but I know a lot of people look forward to it.”
He said health and safety are the most important concerns for Cruise Nite organizers, regardless of the circumstances.
Going ahead with Cruise Nite on its original third week in July schedule could have risked losing approval from health authorities, he said. “We could leave it there at July 14-19, but I don’t think the city or the state or Two Rivers Public Health Department would allow it.”
Among the many unknowns is the weather. October is a month when patterns transition from summer to fall conditions.
“My only concern is we don’t know what the weather will be in October. We could have a blizzard. Under the circumstances we’re willing to roll the dice,” Kernick said.