By Jeff Gallatin
Heading into its second quarter of a century, the 26th annual North Olmsted Firefighters Cruise-In for Muscular Dystrophy is set to continue as one of the top shows of its type in the area.
“Thankfully, we’re in the stage where we really don’t have to change too much at this point,” said Carl Schanz, a North Olmsted firefighter who has been the event’s organizer since its beginning. “What’s that old saying, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ That’s where we’re at at this point. We’ve found a formula that works because people keep coming and helping us and the Muscular Dystrophy Association out.”
That formula includes having owners bring in their assorted specialty cars to the North Olmsted Corporate Center from 5 to 9 p.m. on a Wednesday night (July 10 this year). There, spectators and the car owners look around, and a wide range of contests among the vehicles are held. People at the contest get to vote on the different contests. Refreshments, a raffle and different prizes are available for all. There is no charge for spectators, with all the proceeds from the $10 vehicle entry fees and concessions going to benefit the Cleveland-area Muscular Dystrophy Association.
‘That’s something we have been adamant about since the beginning,” Schanz said. “We didn’t want a bunch of fees and administrative costs eating into what we give to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. We always give it what we take in.”
Schanz said since it began, the event has raised $220,000 for the MDA, with 2012 breaking previous single-year records by raising more than $11,000 with its work.
“We’re fortunate that people have supported us on all levels through the years,” he said. “People come out to see it and enjoy themselves. We have a lot of people who sponsor the event, the corporate center lets us use its lot and others donate different items or concessions. And of course, we have all the people who bring their vehicle out for people to see.”
Last year, 507 vehicles were registered for the event.
‘It’s safe to say we should be around 500 vehicles again,” Schanz said. “We draw a lot of people from around the area.”
Schanz said there are vehicles from throughout northern Ohio, as well as some from other parts of Ohio and some other states.
‘We usually end up with some people from Pennsylvania, and we get some people from Michigan and New York sometimes, too,” he said.
Spectators come from around the country as well, Schanz noted.
“We have one gentleman who will call and see when the show is and then usually come up from Florida for it,” he said. “We have loyal fans.”
Schanz said that support is why the show has been among the annual top five of northern Ohio cruise-in car shows picked by Cruisin’ Times magazine for the last decade.
“That’s a big compliment to us and all the people who support us every year,” Schanz said. “Something like that is a great reminder that people expect a quality show, and all of us involved are aware of that and intend to keep on working hard to keep putting one out.”