Everett’s Jack O’Donnell pauses to greet a bystander as he drives up Rucker Avenue during Saturday’s informal cruise. (Julie Muhlstein / The Herald)

Everett’s Jack O’Donnell pauses to greet a bystander as he drives up Rucker Avenue during Saturday’s informal cruise. (Julie Muhlstein / The Herald)

Cruisin’ on a Saturday afternoon ‘was pretty innocent fun’

Vintage cars wowed neighbors in north Everett. Organizer hopes Cruzin’ to Colby will be back in 2021.

For months they’ve been all shined up with no place to go. That changed Saturday afternoon when classic cars and other automotive beauties cruised the streets of north Everett.

A blast-from-the-past scene, it was amplified by “American Graffiti”-style sound effects — some loud exhaust pipes and at least a few squealing tires.

Instead of spectators coming downtown for the annual Cruzin’ to Colby car show, vintage vehicles came to them. Under smoky skies, neighbors along Colby and Rucker avenues north of 19th Street watched the spectacle from their yards and front porches.

“Saturday brought back a lot of smiles,” said Duane Gleave, a 1957 Everett High graduate whose love affair with cars and cruising started in his school days.

Back then, it was Gleave’s 1940 Chevy, purchased with proceeds from his Everett Herald paper route. On Saturday, he drove his bright red ’49 Chevrolet delivery sedan. Painted in gold on its side: “Re-Nu Auto Top Shop,” the name of the Everett business Gleave ran for years.

“It was pretty innocent fun,” said Everett’s Jack O’Donnell, who drove his 1968 red Chevy Impala convertible with the top down and David Chrisman as co-pilot. “I think people really enjoyed it. People were out in lawn chairs. They were sitting in the median along Colby,” said O’Donnell.

After months of pandemic precautions, it was something to see.

A gray and blue beauty drives north on Rucker Avenue during Saturday’s informal cruise of north Everett neighborhoods. (Julie Muhlstein / The Herald)

A gray and blue beauty drives north on Rucker Avenue during Saturday’s informal cruise of north Everett neighborhoods. (Julie Muhlstein / The Herald)

More than 150 cars joined in Saturday’s 4 to 6 p.m. cruise. Drivers followed a loop south on Colby, beginning at 10th Street. At 19th, they drove two blocks west to Rucker, then on Rucker north to Alverson Boulevard, which meets Colby near Fifth Street. Back on Colby, the long line of cool cars made the loop again — and, for some, again after that.

“We drove for about an hour, then went home and watched cars,” said Gleave, who lives on Rucker and is part of a group calling themselves the “original Colby cruisers.” Before the pandemic, these car guys — most graduated from Everett High in the 1950s and ’60s — would get together for monthly lunches at the Colby Diner downtown. One wall of the diner is covered with photos of their old cars.

The informal cruise Saturday was organized by Scott Pattison, who now heads up Cruzin’ to Colby. An annual Memorial Day weekend event in downtown Everett for two decades, Cruzin’ to Colby was canceled this year — twice — due to COVID-19. When the May dates couldn’t happen, Pattison hoped Cruzin’ to Colby would work out for Labor Day weekend. That, too, was a no-go.

Vintage autos of many eras line Everett’s Rucker Avenue during an informal cruise event Saturday. (Julie Muhlstein / The Herald)

Vintage autos of many eras line Everett’s Rucker Avenue during an informal cruise event Saturday. (Julie Muhlstein / The Herald)

Pattison is affiliated with the Snohomish County Football Officials Association. For years, Cruzin’ to Colby was sponsored by the Seattle Rod-Tiques car club, and later by former pub owner Joel Starr. The football group has provided volunteers to help with Cruzin’ to Colby, which Pattison hopes will be back downtown in May 2021. Over the years, Cruzin’ to Colby has raised thousands of dollars for charities, including the local Camp Fire council, Providence Hospice and Home Care of Snohomish County, and the football officials group for an annual players’ banquet. Pattison said about $900 was donated Saturday by drivers, although there was no participation fee.

The cruise also helped some nearby restaurants, said Pattison, who saw post-event diners downtown. There was no permit for last weekend’s event, but Pattison said “the city knew about it, they didn’t say no.”

“We were aware of it,” said officer Aaron Snell, an Everett police spokesman. At least one police SUV was part of the car parade for a time Saturday. “I got behind him. I had to behave,” O’Donnell said.

Up on two wheels, a car equipped with custom lifts wows bystanders during Saturday’s informal cruise in north Everett. (Julie Muhlstein / The Herald)

Up on two wheels, a car equipped with custom lifts wows bystanders during Saturday’s informal cruise in north Everett. (Julie Muhlstein / The Herald)

“No arrests were made,” said Snell. “As far as I know, it was a fun, awesome event.”

Chapter 46.48 of the Everett Municipal Code, titled “Cruising,” spells out that driving “past a traffic-control point more than two times in the same direction of travel within a two-hour period in or around a posted ‘no-cruising’ area’” is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000. No-cruising signs are still up along Evergreen Way in the Claremont area, but Snell told The Daily Herald in 2015 that “times have changed a bit.” The ban, on the books since 1987, hasn’t been enforced in quite awhile, he said.

Bob Mayer, part of Everett High’s class of 1965, is one of the younger original Colby cruisers. He took pictures of cars that drove Saturday. They’re now posted in an online gallery. Not all the autos were antiques. There were mid-1960s muscle cars and later-model Corvettes mixed in.

“It was a great turnout. A lot of people in the neighborhood would wave. It was a good cheering section,” said Mayer, who estimates 150 to 200 cars took part.

A shiny black Chevy brings the 1950s back to Rucker Avenue in north Everett as its driver joins Saturday’s informal cruise. (Julie Muhlstein / The Herald)

A shiny black Chevy brings the 1950s back to Rucker Avenue in north Everett as its driver joins Saturday’s informal cruise. (Julie Muhlstein / The Herald)

Dave Oczkewicz, part of the cruisers’ lunch bunch, has a 1954 Chevy Delray, a 1966 Plymouth Satellite and a 1970 Dodge Super Bee. He remembers being pulled over by a certain Everett cop in the old days. A framed photo of officer Lloyd Thorton is part of the Colby Diner collection, with the label “The Terror of Colby Cruisers 50’s, 60’s & 70’s.”

“There were a lot of police chasing kids back then,” O’Donnell said. “There’s no need to be chasing a bunch of seniors now.”

Julie Muhlstein: jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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