Saturday June 9, 2018 was the day for this year’s annual Peggy Sue’s Cruise in Santa Rosa, CA. This was the second one I’ve been to and it was great! For those who don’t know, Peggy Sue’s Cruise is an annual car show, that for one day, turns downtown Santa Rosa into a Retro-Lover’s dream come true!
Before I continue, one must be advised that I don’t know crap about cars. Really, I’m clueless when it comes to motor vehicles in general. The only classic car I can positively identify is the Chevrolet Bel Air. Nothing is more iconically 1950’s than a two-toned Chevy with fins. My favorite colors are the turquoise and white and the red and white. Heck, I love the yellow and white ones too! Show me a Porche 911? Not interested. Point out a Maserati Granturismo? I don’t care. But if a 1957 Chevy Bel Air cruises by, you’d think I’d just seen a celebrity. (Okay, and if I got close to a DeLorean I think I’d probably wet myself, but that’s the only post-1950’s car that I’d get excited over.)
I suppose my lack of interest and knowledge in cars is why I never attended Peggy Sue’s Cruise until 2017, even though I’ve lived in Santa Rosa for a long time. I always liked the idea of a car show, and I knew there would be 50’s cars riding around. So I finally made it to the Cruise last year and I’d wondered what took me so long!
This year’s Cruise was another fun-filled afternoon with lots of excitement, noise, and diesel fumes. We don’t go to the judging at the Fair Grounds (although I’m sure it’s fun) Rather, my family and I go to an early dinner on 4th Street then head out to the sidewalks at 5:30 to watch The Cruise. Before the Cruise even begins, you can see a lot of cars going down the street while you’re eating on 4th, if you get good spot by the window. (You can also do this on 3rd and 5th streets.) We went to the new Beer Baron restaurant on the corner of 4th and Court House Square. I love what they’ve done with the place, and the food is pretty good. In Court House Square there is a Back to the Future-esque clock tower that is under construction (but not because it got hit by lightening.)
So at 5:30 I left our table and went out to see the beginning of the Cruise. There was much excitement in the air. The crowd gathers on the curb and the cars rev up their engines and begin circling the block, showing off their vehicles with pride. Some of the folks in the cars show off their cute little dogs. This year the weather was pretty windy, but not hot, thank goodness, since being out in hot weather makes me ill.
The cars at Peggy Sue’s reach as far back in time to the 1920’s with a few renovated Ford Model T’s. There are also a couple of cars from the 30’s and 40’s. (I can always tell the 30’s ones because they look like the cars in Bugsy.) Then there are the Fabulous Fifties Beauties! The Chevy Bel Airs, Impalas and Nomads, the GM Oldsmobiles, the Ford Fairlanes and the Buicks… Just having them drive around is like a taking a trip back to the Best Era Ever. Then there are the 60’s and 70’s muscle cars (such as the Pontiac GTO) which IMO aren’t nearly as impressive, but there are fewer and fewer of them on the road these days, as they are becoming more scarce.
Okay now let’s have a look at some of the beauties featured in this year’s Cruise:
Wow! Imagine living in a time when these cars are all you saw on the road. Every day would be like being in a car show!
One funny aspect of Peggy Sue’s Cruise is how some of the cars are “pimped out” with hydraulics. That’s very 1990’s, and I suppose you could say that by now, it’s also classic. I can’t help but laugh when the drivers show off their hydraulics and their buddies all cheer and give them their props. I guess I’m dating myself, but it reminds me of being a youngster in the 90’s and how “dope” that shit was back in the day. Not exactly the era I came to celebrate, but at least it makes me laugh!
Some of the cars are custom kits and paints, although many are as close to their original, classic form as you can get and still be running. I am not much for custom paint jobs, and even less for kits, since I’m such a traditionalist… But I think they’re fun to look at. Who doesn’t like a car with bright red flames streaming on the sides? It certainly grabs your attention.
But ya know? The thing that’s truly great about Peggy Sue’s Cruise is not the just the cars, not just the Malt Shop Era theme and not even the name of the event itself (which alludes to the song recorded by my favorite musician of all time)… The thing that’s truly great, are the folks. Everyone is smiling, waving and cheering. The winners hold up their trophies with pride. The kids in the cars throw candy to the kids on the sidewalk. People snap photos. Vendors sell popcorn and cotton candy. It’s like a good ole fashioned Parade that brings the whole town together. And, of course, there is also the raw thrill which harkens back to the days of rebel drag-racing and romantic cruises down the highways and byways of America.
Some of the women in the cars pointed and smiled at the retro-style clothing my Mom and I were dressed in. My Mom was wearing a hat and gloves with a smart looking polka-dot skirt and a black blouse with all matching pearl jewelry. And what did I wear? Well, mes amis, I must confess that I broke my own fashionista rules! I wore a pair of tight black, high-waisted pants (rolled up slightly) with a tight off-white and short sleeve top and black stripes around the sleeves. I also had a black chiffon scarf that I started off wearing on my head, then moved down to around my neck. My hair was in a short pony-tail and I wore (gasp) saddle shoes! Yes, I know, I’m too old to be wearing saddle shoes, and I’ve said many times that you don’t want to look like you’re going to a costume party when you’re dressing retro — but I’ve also said that you should, above all else, wear what YOU want and what works for YOU. My original intent was to wear a poofy 50’s-looking skirt by Esley, with a vintage Jonathan Logan blouse. But it was way too windy for a skirt like that. And with some walking to do on the busy street, heels were not a great idea. Plus I figured if I can’t wear saddle shoes to Peggy Sue’s Cruise, when can I wear them? I got lots of compliments and it was fun to finally break them in (they are usually just sitting in my room, as part of the 50’s décor.) And the best part is, they were comfy!
The Cruise usually ends around 8:00 or so. We left just after 7. It’s hard to believe another year of Peggy Sue’s Cruise has come and gone. It’s funny how before I went to one, I imagined that there’d be 50’s and 60’s music playing on speakers from the square, but of course it’s not. That would cost a fortune in royalties. There’s no music except for what the cruisers are playing in their cars. But I guess it makes it more like a real cruise that way.
Once the Cruise ends, it’s sad that the classic cars all seem to disappear. I wonder where people keep them? I very rarely ever see a classic car on the road. I wish they were out, riding around the whole summer long. There just aren’t enough 50’s (and 60’s) themed events, it seems. There’s not even an “Oldies” band lined up to play this year at The Village! But would I complain? Yes, quite well. 🙂
Well, thank you for joining me for my re-cap of Peggy Sue’s Cruise ’18. Remember to enjoy a car show in your area this summer and always keep the Best Era Ever up and running!
I do not get paid to endorse anything. All photographs from the cruise were taken by me.