ORMOND BEACH — Folks here were transported back to a different day and age thanks to the 60th annual Gaslight Parade, an old-school automobile promenade through the city streets Friday evening.
The cars, which mustered at The Casements before they hit the asphalt for a festive salute to autos of old, received an enthusiastic reception along the parade route.
Many of the cars — well over 100 entries — were dressed in Christmas lights and ornaments as a salute to the holiday season.
The event is organized by the Volusia Region Antique Automobile Club of America and has become a Thanksgiving Weekend staple, along with the Turkey Rod Run at Daytona International Speedway.
For those who missed Friday’s parade, many of the same cars will be on display in Fortunato Park across the street from The Casements. The car show, which includes judging, will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
Many of the cars in Friday’s parade spent the day at the Speedway.
The Gaslight entry rules were simple enough. Cars built in 1988 or older, without significant modification, were eligible to participate.
And there was one rogue scooter.
“We like to see the cars as original as possible,” said Emily Kroeger, who is an officer in the car club.
Kroeger and other club members all volunteer their time to the parade and car show.
“Every person that owns an old car loves to talk about them,” she said. “We love the old cars.”
The people who own these cars are passionate about automobile preservation and many work in their own garages to keep them running.
Mike Grasso and Steve Warren, from Daytona Beach, co-own a 1947 Buick Estate Wagon, featuring wood side panels. It is considered a car from the “Woody” class.
“This is a pretty good deal for us,” Grasso said of the parade. “We own 10 older cars, so this is just one from our group. We keep and drive this one here. The others are in North Carolina.”
This Buick is not locked in the garage. Grasso says the 70-year-old car is a “daily, running, driving car.”
Warren is a mechanic and says he has no difficulty finding parts for the car.
“NAPA even has some parts for it,” he said with a smile.
Parked next to the Buick was a 1931 Model A Ford, which was the upgrade from Henry Ford’s original Model T.
It too was sold to the masses.
“It is has a four-cylinder engine which produces about 40 horsepower,” Paul Howes said. “It is a lot of fun to drive. This was a huge improvement over the Model T. It cost about $550 new to buy.”
Howes, who lives here, bought the car eight years ago.
He said he likes to drive the Ford as much as he can, except during the summer. “No air conditioning,” he deadpanned.
“I belong to an (antique car club) and we go on tours with our cars,” he said. “We’ve gone up to North Carolina and different areas around Florida.”
These cars don’t see the interstate. Howes said his car runs best at 40 to 45 mph.
As the cars filled up the lot behind The Casements, Edgewater’s Jason McCarthy parked his 1953 Plymouth Cambridge Suburban near other Chrysler automobiles and his family came spilling out.
“It’s got a 218 flathead six (cylinder) engine,” he said. “It’s the original engine.”
The car is an oddball because it has limited mileage, only 59,000 miles on the odometer.
“It belonged to Bowling Green University and they used it as a utility car around campus for 40 years,” he said. “I’m only the third owner.”
McCarthy and his family are Gaslight regulars. He has owned this Plymouth, which was considered as “starter car” back in the day, about seven years.
He said when he first purchased the Plymouth, he drove it so much that the battery on his modern-day passenger car went dead on him.
“It is an incredibly reliable car,” he said. “I drive it around about twice a week now.”
Kroeger urged those with older automobiles to join the Volusia Region AACA, which hosts several events each year. You can call the club at 386-761-7987.
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