Historic downtown Morris turned into a scene from the past as 770 cars cruised down Liberty Street which was once a Morris tradition called “buzzing the gut.” Each car slowly rolled down the spectator lined street backed into a parking spot and set up for the night.
Friends Peggy Lindstrom and Vicki Walsh of Channahon made the evening a double date, but the two were seen checking out cars by themselves as Lindstrom said, “the hubbies are out somewhere without us, while we pick our favorites.”
“It’s nostalgic to look at the cars and imagine them on the road back in the day,” Walsh of Channahon said.
The Morris Cruise Night has been a staple in the community since Herb Wyeth founded the event in 2002. The second Saturday from June to October hundreds of cars and thousands of spectators take to downtown Morris to see cars and trucks from the early 1900s to remakes from the 2000s.
Among the 770 entries, 123 cities were represented and four states, which included Florida, Michigan, Indiana and Missouri. Wyeth said it was one of the largest spectator turnouts he has even seen as Liberty was packed from Washington to the railroad tracks near the Grundy County Chamber of Commerce and Industry building, and a block down each side street along that stretch of road.
It’s an affair for car enthusiasts or families who want to get out of the house, look at neat cars, have dinner and enjoy what downtown Morris has to offer. Wyeth said no outside vendors are allowed and many restaurants downtown offered special quick grab and go dinners and specials, and some had live music to draw in the cruise night crowd.
This cruise night was not meant to only be about the cars, it was also designed as a fundraiser to support local organizations. The Morris Cruise Night committee allowed applications from local groups to be considered a beneficiary of some of the funds from the evening’s food and 50/50 raffle sales.
Wyeth said 13 applied this year and five were chosen, the July cruise event supported Grundy-Three Rivers Habitat for Humanity.
“Our goal was to help the community while we help charities who help the community, and to have fun,” Wyeth said.
Dresden Station Exelon Plant donated 400 burgers and 600 hotdogs to the event. Jim Bubba Waite of Exelon and Darin Wills of Grundy-Three Rivers Habitat for Humanity manned the grill for the evening which was no easy task as the line never let up.
Grundy-Three Rivers Habitat for Humanity vice president Kevin Brown said the funds from Morris Cruise Night benefited the next home recipient which was the Hill family from Morris. He said the daughter Sammi Hill who attends Morris Community High School already asked him to paint her room purple.
Two awards are given to participants, one was the beneficiary choice, which was chosen by Hill and went o Dick Boyd of Joliet for his 1941 Chevy Coupe and American Legion member Carter Corsello picked the celebrity choice which was a M37 Army Truck.