Cruising the Ave: Apple Blossom Tradition Making A Comeback?
If you visited downtown Wenatchee Saturday night (4/29) and observed much busier than normal traffic, you may have recalled an Apple Blossom tradition that drew people from all over the Pacific Northwest.
Wenatchee Police Captain Edgar Reinfeld remembers. He worked as a bike patrol officer when "Cruising the Ave" was in its heyday.
"It was something you did primarily on the big weekend, but to some extent on the kids' weekend as well," Captain Reinfeld said. "Up until the mid 2000s, we would bring up to 100 officers in for Friday and Saturday Grand Parade weekend, just to keep things in control. Thousands and thousands of people walking around from out of the area coming here to make mischief and have a good time, kind of like Mardi Gras in Wenatchee."
Captain Reinfeld says he believes an ordinance was put on the books in the late 80's that made cruising unlawful but adds that Wenatchee Police didn't kill the activity.
"Documenting, figuring out and actually recording somebody cruising, I don't think one violation was ever written because it wasn't simple. It was literally a vehicle had to pass a certain location so many times in an hour to be classified as cruising." Captain Reinfeld said. "As things kind of went on and gas prices went up at one point, it just kind of petered out."
Now "Cruising the Ave" is making a bit of a comeback. It was posted on social media last week to meet on the backside of JCPenney. The posting went on to say cruising begins at 5:30pm, no burnouts, no racing, no drama.
Dozens of people responded by traveling the north and south lanes of Wenatchee Avenue Saturday night with an array of vehicles, ranging from classic to modified. Some of them were loud with drivers revving up engines and causing intentional backfires. Occasionally you would see people standing or sitting in the beds of pickups.
"I don't believe we wrote any tickets regarding anybody cruising Saturday. But it's difficult to say. We're very busy on these weekends. And where we don't have a bunch of extra staff, it doesn't necessarily make it possible for us to do dedicated enforcement efforts for something like that without staffing up with a known problem coming." Captain Reinfeld said.
Traditionally, "Cruising the Ave" hit its peak on the second Saturday Night of the Apple Blossom Festival, but Captain Reinfeld wonders whether cruisers will come out in numbers with one of the Tour de Bloom stage races occupying Wenatchee Avenue between First Street and Orondo Avenue.
"The city is cut in half and the avenue is unavailable because it's closed for the Criterium. So, it's not really as possible in the big weekend, which is probably why we saw it Saturday night on youth weekend." Captain Reinfeld said. "I guess people could do it from 5th Street North using Wenatchee Avenue but that was always where it got thin because it's four lanes."
If cruisers do plan to come out Friday Night or after the race Saturday Night, police ask that they use good judgement.
"As long as you're not driving recklessly, burnouts and cutting donuts and blocking intersections and throwing things from vehicles or people, jumping in and out of moving vehicles, (cruising) is not necessarily a bad thing. Keep volume reasonable, be safe, and enjoy yourselves." Reinfeld said.
The Fast 5 - Five of the Fastest Cars In the World