Car cruise season opens in Crown Point
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent May 22, 2014 9:04PM
Steve Galantiere stands by his car during the Crown Point Cruise Thursday afternoon and checks out some of hte other cars that enterd the cruise. |Dan Shelton/Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 24, 2014 6:09AM
CROWN POINT — Paul Mathes carefully adjusted the piston in the trunk of his ’57 Plymouth.
He wanted to ensure that his pride and joy was ready for friends and strangers alike to check out Thursday during the kick-off night of the annual Crown Point Car Cruise.
“I’ve been waiting all winter for this,” Mathes, of Kouts, said.
The classic-car enthusiast has been participating in car cruises and shows for about 30 years and loves the interaction with friends who also participate and the families who come out to see the special vehicles.
“It’s a hobby. It’s beyond that. Some people like to golf ... some people like to run. I like building cars,” Mathes said.
The process is never-ending. Mathes has performed custom body work, including raising the car’s distinctive fins. He’s changed the bumpers and chromed the engine and all the metal accessories.
Hydraulics lower the Plymouth almost to the ground while it’s parked, making it almost seem as if it’s floating on a sea of asphalt. Yet, Mathes said, there’s still more he would like to do in the quest for perfection. Showing off the hard work is part of the fun.
“They’re never done,” he said.
Weather postponed the start of the season in Crown Point by a week. Mathes already has attended several other cruise nights. Once the season is in full swing, he expects to be out as much as five nights a week and Saturday or Sunday, depending on what events are scheduled.
Crown Point residents Alan Ricchio and his wife, Kim have been coming to the Crown Point Cruise Night since the beginning. The couple bring Alan’s diamond pearl 1966 Ford Mustang.
“The first time I came out I was so excited I couldn’t wait to come back. My car wasn’t the best the first couple years. I won the award for perfect attendance,” Alan said.
The Mustang has come a long way, but as it is with so many classic car enthusiasts, it remains a work in progress.
“I cringe every time the UPS truck shows up,” Kim joked.
The couple said they enjoy the atmosphere on the city square with the people, the different cars and the music. On Thursday night, Five Star DJ — sponsored by Mike Adams, The Hot Dog Guy — filled the square with classic tunes.
“What more could you want?” Alan asked.
Ron Dyrkacz and his son, Trevor, 9, were checking out the different cars as they killed time waiting for Trevor’s music lesson to begin. Trevor was especially fond of the different Corvettes “just because they are fast” but was enjoying all the vehicles as he pointed out different details that he noticed to his dad.
“We like them all. We don’t discriminate on our hot rods,” Dyrkacz said.
The family lives within walking distance of the square and enjoys coming out for Cruise Night.
“There’s always something different to look at,” he said.