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9th Annual Toys For Kids Cruise-In at Don Garlits • December 5, 2009
story, photos and captions by John Michael

On Saturday, December 5th, 2009, the 9th Annual Toys For Kids Cruise-In was hosted by the Twilight Cruisers to benefit Interfaith Charity. Heavy rains made for a slow ride on the way to the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing near Ocala, and cloudy skies along with a cold winter day made it feel more like Detroit than Florida. Once arriving at the show field, the rains stopped, participants parked their rides, and dash plaques were given out to the first 125 vehicles registered. Vendors’ tents were set up displaying die-cast cars, car parts, and selling AAA memberships. Serving some of our favorite car show foods was the Pink Catolac Diner, which is a vintage camper that was converted to a little diner on wheels. Over $1,500 worth of door prizes were given out throughout the day, and the “Almost Live DJ”, who also hosted the Polish Stocking event, provided music.

This event is entertaining because wrapped presents are removed from the stocking, and the lucky contestant gets to keep the gift, exchange it for another one or make a cash deal. A Chinese auction was also held, with all of the proceeds from this event going towards Interfaith Charity. Tours of Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing were offered for a special discounted price, and many took advantage of the special and enjoyed the collection of classics in the warmth of the indoor displays.

After the above events took place, the awards presentation was held mid-afternoon, with awards going to the Participants Choice for the Top 40 vehicles. In addition, 10 judged trophies were awarded for various categories, which included an unfinished trophy given for the Best Unfinished Vehicle, several “Best Of” awards, a Ladies’ Choice award, a “Big Daddy” Don Garlits Choice, and a big trophy for the Best of Show that was earned by Joe Mincy and his timeless 1957 Buick Road Master 75 Series. Following the trophy presentation, the 50/50 drawing was held, with a $323 payoff to the winner, who was generous enough to donate $200 back to Interfaith Charity. Runner up numbers were drawn from the 50/50 tickets, and winners got a choice of an orbital polisher/sander, neon underbody car kit, 500-amp jump box starter, or gift cards from Dillard’s.

After all was said and done, the event generated about $2,100 cash and over $7,500 worth of toys were collected for Interfaith Charity. This event, hosted by the Twilight Cruisers, is always held in December, and in addition to helping others less fortunate, gives participants and spectators alike the chance to meet Don Garlits and tour his Museum of Drag Racing, which combines experiencing drag racing history and viewing a fine collection of classic automobiles. The museum is located on State Route 484 near Ocala, just off I-75 at exit 341 in Belleview, Florida. Information on next year’s show will be made available; so keep checking for a listing in the Coming Attractions section of Mike Kelly’s Cruise News. CN