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Cruisin' Winter Haven's 4th Anniversary • May 2, 2009

story, photos and captions by John Michael

Since the start of the event known as Cruisin’ Winter Haven, 45 cruises have now taken place, and on Saturday, May 2, 2009, the 4th Anniversary of Cruisin’ Winter Haven was held on the streets of downtown Winter Haven, Florida. Bright sunny skies and warm temperatures greeted the cruisers as they arrived for the event, and over 200 vehicles attended the cruise-in. Commemorative dash plaques were given out to the first ones to arrive, and 50/50 tickets were sold throughout the evening. Once participants got their rides parked and shined, many wandered the downtown area, visiting the many shops and restaurants open during the cruise-in. The sounds of the 50’s, 60’s and the early 70’s filled the air around the square, as DJs Butch and Jennifer Johnston of WJBJ Cruisin’ with the Classics were playing all of our favorite cruising songs. The Polk County Misfitz Car Club helped with parking as well as traffic control for the event, and a special row was reserved for the past Cruisers of the Month, which are chosen by the downtown merchants. For the Anniversary Cruise, the past Cruisers of the Month had buckets placed in front of their vehicles, and the people voted for their favorite, and the three vehicles that received the most votes became this year’s Top 3 Cruisers of the Year.

As the sunny skies painted a beautiful sunset leading to a balmy evening, the crowd gathered at the intersection of 4th Street S.W. and Central Ave W. as the activities centered around the WJBJ trailer, and the 35 door prizes that were given away included cases of Valvoline oil, event T-shirts, and other items. The awards were given out for the current Cruiser of the Month, followed by the Top 3 Cruisers of the Year. The lucky ticket for the 50/50 was picked, and the drawing paid out $220 to the winner. Special recognition was also paid to WJBJ’s Butch and Jennifer Johnston, who had their 25th wedding anniversary coming soon. After the National Anthem was played, the participants then made their way back to cars as spectators lined the sidewalks to witness the actual cruise. Safety is always a top priority, as the cruise-in is led each month by the Winter Haven Police Department and is followed by the Cruiser of the Month, which was Dave Burton’s 1955 Chevy Bel Air 4-door sedan. For the Anniversary Cruise-Ins, the prior Cruisers of the Month fall in line next, followed by the rest of the participants of Cruisin’ Winter Haven. Spectators wave, watch and take pictures as the vehicles parade by on their way to returning to 4th Street S.W. and Central Ave W., and the cruise-in usually ends with the flashing lights of the last safety escort vehicle, John Lenhart’s black and white 1993 Chevy Indy 500 pace truck.

Cruisin’ Winter Haven is a free monthly cruise-in held the 1st Saturday of every month except December, when the town square is used by the city of Winter Haven for the Christmas Holiday seasonal activities. The cruise-in is open to all makes, models and years of vehicles, and the event starts around 3:00pm, with the door prizes given away around 8:00pm, and the actual cruise ends around 9:00pm. For more information about Cruisin’ Winter Haven, call WJBJ’s Butch Johnston at 407-207-2498, visit WJBJ’s web site at or look for a listing in the Weekly & Monthly Cruises section of Mike Kelly’s Cruise News. CN