Cruise expects to exceed collections

SALEM – Changes for the 2013 Salem Arby’s cruises include a second featured car of the week and a Facebook page that should be operational by the end of this week, according to organizer Gene Johnson.

A committee of about 15 cruise enthusiasts met at the Salem Arby’s at 2320 E. State St. on Saturday and came up with several new ideas, Johnson said, adding that the 27 Saturday night events planned for this summer will benefit the Salem Community Food Pantry again this year.

Last year, Arby’s cruises collected close to 85,000 pounds of food and Johnson expects to exceed that in 2013.

“We think this year’s going to be a lot bigger than the past,” Johnson said, speculating that it should be at least 10 percent


“Maybe bigger,” he said.

The Arby’s Cruise was rated as No. 9 in 2012 for cruises with 135 to 200 cars in Cruisin’ Times Magazine which covers these events in northeast Ohio.

“We’re in the ‘large cruise’ category now,” Johnson said, adding the cruise has attracted a lot of attention on Big Al’s List where, at, there is a section devoted to Arby’s Salem cruise photos for the past couple of years.

Click on “photo gallery” first and on the second page click on 2012 pictures and then the Arby’s of Salem Cruise-Ins which features a shot of the Goodyear Blimp “Spirit of America” cruisin’ above the Arby’s sign last June.

Johnson said three bands including the “Abbey Road Beatles Tribute Band,” the Randy Strader “Tribute Band” and Downtown Saturday Night have all volunteered to play during cruise season.

When bands aren’t spotlighted, Johnson will perform DJ duties playing 50s, 60s and 70s music. There are also drawings and giveways.

The usual non-perishable two cans of food or two dollars will get cruise cars admitted.

Last year, one car each week was feature after being selected by judges and Johnson said this year two cars will be “featured.”

There will be a hot rod modified or modified street rod category and an “all original” category with trophies to each, every week.

They are also toying with the idea of featuring different car models each week, such as a Mustang, Chevelle, all hot rods, or all Dodge week.

With the Corvette turning 60 this year, Johnson said they plan to work on a birthday event for the iconic ‘Vette.

Depending on the weather, there are 27 events planned through October when a Halloween-themed event is being looked at.

Johnson said the Facebook page, called the “Arby’s Car Cruise,” will help cruisers and the public stay up-to-date on what is happening and, when weather is a question, they’re planning a red light for no cruise and green for go.

The starting time has been bumped up from 5 to 4 p.m. and an hour has been added so the cruises will close at 9 p.m.

Larry Shields can be reached at