ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) --- Few things evoke the feeling of nostalgia the way cruising in a vintage car can --- and few places do it as well as Escondido. Cruisin' Grand has been dubbed the greatest ongoing cruise and this year it’s back in full.
Stroll down Grand on a Friday night in the summer and you’ll hear the sounds of engines purring or in some cases roaring --- music to the ears of any classic car lover. For Steve Waldron, his 1948 Ford coupe with hot-rod flames is the eye-catching instrument that makes that sound.
“We bought it up in Glendora, my dad and I,” Steve says.
Steve has been restoring old cars since he was a kid.
“My earliest memory of my dad, believe it or not, I was sitting in a garage and he was pinstriping his Merc, Mercury.”
So it's no wonder that when Steve grew up, he founded Cruisin' Grand 22 years ago.
“For years I thought Grand Avenue just had this ambiance, this great venue for a potential car cruise.”
But at first, not everyone was revved up by the idea.
“The police chief who didn't want anything to do with it because they remember the days of Valley Parkway.”
That’s where teens like Steve used to cruise, but now many of them have settled down and are even grandparents. Steve recognizes cruising is a great opportunity to introduce the next generation to these cars.
“Vintage cars are part of Americana, like rock ‘n’ roll music.”
On any Friday night from April through September, you might think you've stepped back in time. That is, until you notice the modern cars alongside the vintage ones. Steve says he couldn’t have imagined how popular Cruisin’ Grand would become.
“I just thought it would be a bunch of guys out there lying about how fast or how cool their cars were.”
No lying necessary because this is cool. Just ask any of the car enthusiasts out here, like Mario Flores:
“The people are really cool, like the air, like the old cars. You know, it's just timeless,” or Russell Ritenour:
“Wonderful restaurants here. Everyone's very friendly.”
Steve says on the first Friday in April 2000, there were 40 to 50 classic or pre-1974 cars. By the next Friday, there were about 200 and that average has held ever since. But this is not just about frames and chassis, it's also about families and children.
“We have live music, and a DJ, and a hula hoop contest. It's really family oriented,” says Steve.
That makes sense, because often rebuilding classic cars presents a tremendous bonding opportunity as it did for Steve through the shiny red 1939 Ford pickup now in his garage.
“We restored it, father and son. We built, turned every nut and bolt, did everything on this and it will be my son's someday.”
A passion that spans generations on full display on Grand Avenue.
“I had a Mustang as a kid, 16 years old,” says Steve as he starts up the 1969 Mach 1 Mustang he’s restoring.
“I'm going down the road, I feel like I'm 17 years old again.”
Like magic, these well-loved cars can transport us back to a time and place.
Cruisin’ Grand is every Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Each week features a different theme from first responder night to truck night. The cruise starts on Grand at Escondido Boulevard and travels northeast to Juniper Street. You can also check out the cars up close because they'll be parked on the side streets off Grand.
For more information on Cruisin' Grand, visit https://www.cruisingrand.net.