RIVERSIDE – As diverse a community as Riverside is, virtually everyone milling about town the evening of June 13 will have one thing on their minds: cars.
The Riverside Chamber of Commerce will offer its first Cruise Night of 2013 on Thursday. Burlington Street will be closed off east of Longcommon Road from 6 to 9 p.m. as car enthusiasts show off their prized possessions.
"It's a nice night," said Rick Rovella, who organizes the Cruise Nights and Car Show for the chamber. "We usually get about 130 cars the first night. We can actually get up to 160 cars, but usually it's about 130 cars."
The other Cruise Nights this year will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. July 11, and Aug. 8, said Riverside Village Clerk Cathy Haley. The annual Car Show, which closes the car season in the village, will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 29, she said.
The Cruise Nights are less formal than is the Car Show, Rovella said. A few trophies are given out at each Cruise Night event, and people who bring their cars to be shown don't pay anything to participate, he said.
The Car Show is a more structured event, Rovella said. There is a 100-point judging system used to evaluate the cars, and nearly 100 trophies are given out in numerous categories, he said. There also is an entrance fee to participate, Rovella said.
Bill Kernan has been showing off his 1967 Sunbeam Alpine at Cruise Nights since they began in 2005. Kernan said he helped start the event with Rovella when he served as a member of the Riverside Economic Development Commission.
"Seeing all of the people there, you're talking to the people and they all have a like mind about cars," said Kernan, who is a member of the Sports Car Club of America. "You get to see all the different cars, especially the older ones. I like the sports cars, for the most part, but also the hot rods."
Rovella has had an interest in cars since he was young when he used to fix them with his dad. Since 1983, he has owned an auto repair business called The Riverside Garage with Larry Czerwinski.
There is more to Cruise Nights than just cars, Rovella said. Event organizers are working to create a special section for people who bring their Model T cars, he said.
The Oak Park-based Animal Care League will also bring dogs for adoption, said Chris Meyer, off-site adoptions manager for the organization. The Animal Care League has participated in previous Cruise Nights, Meyer said.
For those who might question the connection, just consider how much better a car looks with a happy dog's face hanging out the window.
Chew Chew Café, 33 E. Burlington St., will set up an area outside across the street from its site to sell food, said owner Scott Zimmer. Tents and a grill will be set up, and outdoor tables will be available, Zimmer said.
"The nice thing about Riverside is that we get some of the rarest cars here," Rovella said. "It's nice to see the wide diversity of cars that we have."