Cruise finished strong, in black

SALEM – Rain picked off part of one day and someone tried to hoax people into believing it was canceled, but the 9th Salem Super Cruise finished strong and apparently well in the black, Service Safety Director Ken Kenst said Monday.

It was the third Super Cruise under Mayor John Berlin and the fifth the city has managed, with each year finishing with a profit through concession fees and sponsors that cover all expenses including overtime for city employees.

There will be a debriefing meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday in city council chambers and public input is invited, Berlin said.

In January, at the first 2014 Super Cruise meeting, Kenst, in his third year of managing the event, said the intent is not to make money “but cover our expenses” and the cruise has done so each year.

This year it started with $26,937 in the municipal event fund and the final tabulation for the official three-day event is weeks away.

He expects to cover costs and looks to the 10th Super Cruise next year as an even bigger event.

While Friday ran under a constant threat of rain, cruise fans still made it downtown and Kenst was impressed by the number of people whom he recognized attending each day.

One of the great attractions is giving people not just the opportunity but the ability to view hot-rodding up close and see a true piece of Americana.

The State Street crowd on Saturday evening was as big as ever and Berlin said outside marketing representatives, who spent the weekend at the cruise, were impressed.

Kenst said Sunday’s Super Cruise Autocross had much bigger numbers and the parks department set up bleachers in the high school lot.

“I think this year they were really happy with it,” he said.

Gene Johnson, organizer for the Arby’s Cruisin’ Crew that managed the show-car parking, was happy with the results.

The Arby’s Cruisin’ Crew backs the Salem Community Food Pantry and will be donating “a little over $5,000” to that organization along with $500 to the Salem Salvation Army, Johnson said.

“It was very successful,” Johnson said, “it was great, you couldn’t ask for a better event for a fund raiser.”

He expects to have Berlin present the checks to the two organizations during Wednesday’s meeting.

“I think we are in for next year,” he said, regarding the Arby’s Cruisin’ Crew returning for the 10th anniversary Super Cruise, but he added they want to shut down the East Second Street parking lot.

The East Second Street show-car parking lot failed to reach expectations and it should be moved closer to the downtown area and onto South Broadway Ave., he said, adding, “it was a waste of time.”

Another event showing much bigger numbers was the Bricker Automotive Show ‘n Shine on Sunday afternoon. The Show ‘n Shine drew over 100 entrants, Kenst said, noting there were about 84 entrants in 2013.

“I’m happy … the changes we made, I think they worked out very well … with the Arby’s Cruisin’ Crew knowing everybody and that was a real plus” along with the advertising sales.

“Those were the biggest improvements,” he said.

One convenience store/service station said business exceeded what it gets during Christmas and one restaurant owner wondered about a couple of cruises during warm-weather months.

Kenst said with all the planning that goes into the Super Cruise he could only see doing it once a year.

He hadn’t looked at police reports but said there was nothing major and there were no big problems. All the vendors were cleared out by Monday afternoon.

One thing the 2014 Super Cruise will be remembered for is an imposter’s attempt to convince vendors and a Youngstown television station that the cruise was canceled.

Police are still investigating the hoax.

The businesses received calls and emails from someone identifying themselves as Kenst and advising them to come and pick up their equipment because the cruise was canceled.

The companies called city hall to check and were advised the event was still on.

One call was made to the manager of the Salem Arby’s restaurant and Berlin said whoever called there identified himself as a Salem Police officer named Jason and warned the restaurant they weren’t allowed to park on the grass or they would be ticketed.