With entertainment options limited under current shelter-in-place orders, one resident has been thinking outside the box by organizing two car cruising nights in Hollister.
“The idea was just to get some people out of the house, but still stay safe with everything going on and just flood the town with cool cars and good times,” said James Perez Jr., the man behind the San Benito Street Cruise on May 9 and the SBC Cruise Night on May 30.
While Perez, 21, works full time in a warehouse, he said he began organizing car meets for the import car scene, as well as big sideshows, in high school.
“Now my vision is to have each cruise bigger than the last,” he said. “My message to everyone is to come out, have a good time, keep it respectful, and stay tuned for the next ones to come.”
Word spread quickly about the first cruise, which led drivers up and down San Benito Street. Bystanders, pedestrians and even bicyclists stopped to enjoy the line of cars, at times bringing traffic to a complete stop.
Perez, who rides in a 1967 Chevy Impala he built over the years with his father, did not expect the first cruise to be so popular (at least 100 cars participated). He decided to spread the word again for the May 30 cruise.
“I’m from San Jose where low riding and cruising is a big thing,” he said. “Living in Hollister for four years now, there’s not much to do in the car scene out here, so I figured let’s give it a try.”
By 7 p.m., cars participating in the cruise arrived at the old Kmart parking lot off Tres Pinos Road. Respecting the organizer’s request to follow social distance guidelines, most participants stayed in and around their cars, though few people wore masks. Some families parked at the other end of the lot had optimal viewing as the cars drove by.
The second cruise night faced a new challenge: closure of San Benito Street for outdoor dining. As a result, drivers followed one of two routes meant to keep traffic moving and avoid causing congestion. Route A drivers left the Kmart parking lot and headed west on Tres Pinos Road, right on Monterey Road and then left on Fourth Street; Route B drivers made a right turn on Fourth Street, sending them in the opposite direction.
Tanyia Figueroa took part in the cruise night and rode in her 2014 Ford Edge truck with her mother Sherri Frank.
“We went out there to get out of the house and check out all the cars,” Figueroa said. “This was my mom’s first time anywhere, we stayed in the car due to the pandemic.”
Tanyia’s husband Jacob also took part in the cruise night in a 2005 Dodge Ram, driving grandmother Lilia and children Cristian, 9, Izrael, 5, and Roman, 3. Jacob equipped the car with a stereo system that he used to play music during the cruise.
“I personally haven’t seen anything like this and I would love to see this again,” Figueroa said. “The best part about it was everyone was together, all cultures, all vehicles, cars, trucks, motorcycles.”
Hollister Councilwoman Carol Lenoir, whose district covers the downtown area, said she thinks cruising cars is “awesome.”
“I’m from an old cruise route myself,” she said. “Many of my old friends did a lot of cruising downtown in the 70s. More power to it, so long as it’s safe for all.”
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