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Cruise night organizers look to grow parking for event

Morris Cruise Night participants continue to grow, so much so the downtown streets are running out of room.

At the Aug. 10 cruise night 886 vehicles lined the streets of Morris, a record for the 12-year event, said Herb Wyeth, Morris Cruise Night founder, to the Morris City Council on Monday.

Wyeth asked the council to consider allowing the event to use the city’s parking lot at Benton and Liberty streets.

“We are running out of places to park cars ... it will allow for 35 more cars,” he said.

August is always the cruise night season’s busiest month. This month’s event attracted 99 vehicles that have never been to the event before. About 8,000 spectators came to Morris for the event.

The council discussed allowing vehicles to be parked along Liberty Street between Washington Street and Illinois Avenue, as well as adding the use of the parking lot. Previously, that street has been closed off to cruisers for traffic purposes. In addition, they may be able to use Washington from Franklin Street to Liberty, too.

Mayor Richard Kopczick said there is one more council meeting between now and the next cruise night and asked Wyeth to bring the city maps of how the current parking is done and one with the suggested additions.

“I’ll draw a map, no problem, and I’ll talk to the businesses that [increasing the event between Washington and Illinois] would affect,” he said.

If this suggestion is approved, spots in front of the Eagles Club, Corleone’s Italian Restaurant, and Tully Monster Pub and Grill would get used. Wyeth said there could be an issue for the Eagles because they sell brats during the Morris Cruise Nights and some of the classic car owners would have concerns with parking their cars near a food booth. He said he would talk to Eagles to see if a designated space could be worked out. No action by the council was taken on Wyeth’s request Monday.

Alderman Don Hansen asked Morris police Chief Brent Dite if the amount of events downtown on the same weekend is getting to be too much for the police. Dite said he has increased patrol officers on duty for these weekends and will probably increase it even more, but overall everyone does their part to keep everyone safe during these busy times. During the Aug. 10 cruise night there also was the 3 French Hens Country Market on the I&M Canal and another fundraiser in town, Wyeth said.

The August cruise night had 137 cities represented and four out of state entries. The beneficiary of the event was the Community Nutrition Network’s Meals on Wheels. The 50-50 for the event raised more than $9,400, with half going to CNN.

The Beneficiaries Choice Award went to a 1951 Ford Coup and the Celebrity Choice Award, which was Morris Fire Chief Tracey Steffes, went to a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro.

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