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Long-absent car cruise comes to Sacramento

Although there are several automobile shows throughout the year in Sacramento, the art of the car cruising display has been lost in the City of Trees for decades. This Saturday, The California Automobile Museum and hundreds of car owners will be teaming up to present the debut of CAMBER (California Automobile Museum’s Big Event on the Road), bringing back the old tradition of parading the merchandise along city streets to Downtown Sacramento.

"As far as we know, there has not been a cruise in Sacramento since back in the 50s when it was really popular," said Karen McClaflin, executive director of the California Auto Museum. "They’d cruise down J Street and K, going in a loop. So the idea was, ‘why not let some of these guys who used to cruise bring their cars out and do it again?’"

The new event is being paired with the “Reno Swap Meet," the popular annual auto trading affair Sunday at Arco Arena.

Beginning at 2 p.m., CAMBER will commence with 250 cars gathering across six closed blocks in Midtown for onlookers to enjoy for a few hours. Since the show is scheduled around lunchtime, McClaflin said it should also allow spectators to not only enjoy a wonderful collection of cars, but also to sample the many quality restaurants and shops in the area.

"It’s something that the community can really get involved with, and it can stimulate business for Downtown merchants," McClaflin said. "And it will hopefully be a fundraiser for the museum, as well as becoming just a part of the fabric of Sacramento.

"We wanted to create a venue that already has an audience, so putting it in the middle of town was a good option for us, where it’s right where the people already are."

Nearly 5000 fliers were handed out along J Street to let residents know about the 3.5 mile cruise following the stand-still showing around 5 p.m. The cars will be police escorted along J Street to Sacramento State University, where they will re-assemble in lots 7 and 8 within the school parking lot. Local restaurants and vendors will bring their business to the display, coupled with live entertainment and a fan-voted awards ceremony.

"They’ll re-park at Sac State and have a second car show there for folks who were maybe with their families or busy during the day," McClaflin said. "We’ve got Mick Martin and the Blues Rockers, and we’ll do our awards program at 8 p.m., which is a people’s choice award where they vote on various things like ‘Best Under the Hood’ to overall ‘Best of Show.’"

McClaflin said she hopes CAMBER can one day rival other similar car cruises within the area, such as Reno’s Hot August Nights, San Jose’s Hot San Jose Nights and Redding’s Cool April Nights.

Because it is the event’s opening year, there is much uncertainty surrounding the Sacramento community’s response to the show and cruise. However, McClaflin said the museum’s planning team has been preparing for this Saturday for over eight months in hopes to launch CAMBER in impressive fashion.

"That is the big question," McClaflin said. "Is it going to be the New Year’s Eve fiasco Downtown with way too many people? Or it could be a ghost town, I just don’t know. Hopefully it’s somewhere in between."


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