PANAMA CITY — The eighth annual Emerald Coast Cruizin’s Hot Rod by the Beach kicked off Monday at Sea Breeze Health Care in preparation for the weekend festivities.
Tony Betsey lives at Sea Breeze and said he loves the car show visit.
“It reminds me of things I used to see,” Betsey said. “My favorite is the Chevy SS 396 V cam, just the power it had.”
Cheryl Register, activity director for Sea Breeze, said the cars are a big hit.
“They (the residents) love it,” Register said. “The women will do their little poses to take pictures with their favorite cars. Some cars they look forward to seeing every year and of course there are some that are different each year.”
JR Drake, an Emerald Coast Cruizin’ participant, said they love coming down to Sea Breeze to kick off the hot rod show.
“People at nursing homes don’t have people come out to entertain them,” Drake said. “We love to come here; these people are on my heart.”
Monday’s kickoff celebrated seven years at Sea Breeze and the guys said although the shows don’t start officially until Thursday, dozens of participants come early just for this celebration. Almost 50 cars filled the parking lot and Randy Wilson, another Cruizin’ participant, said they expect around 3,000 cars this weekend and more than 100 vendors.
A change this year is location.
“We moved from Frank Brown Park to Front Beach,” Wilson said. “We’ll be at the old Miracle Strip at Alvin’s Island next to the Grand Panama.”
He said most of the participants drive in from other states for the show to see more than the cars.
“It’s the people; you go to car shows all over, all three of us do,” Wilson said. “This show is more of a reunion for us. Let’s all go to Florida; it’s November. You’ll have people here that you may not know their name, but you’ll know their face.”
The Hot Rod Show registration starts at 8 a.m. Thursday and the festivities start at 6:30 p.m. with the Redneck Luau at Hammerhead Fred’s.
“It’s good, clean, family entertainment,” Drake said.