Saturday may be final Arby’s car cruise

SALEM — This Saturday could be the last Arby’s car cruise. An end to a summer tradition.

The Arby’s Cruisin’ Crew founder Gene Johnson distributed a letter at last Saturday’s cruise advising that he and his wife, Jane, were at a point where they were “getting to an age where we need to do things that we want to do, before we are too old …”

The Arby’s Saturday night cruises developed into summertime tradition at the restaurant at 2320 E. State St., and provided a place for cruisers to show off their custom street rods, hot rods and show cars on a weekly basis.

The cruises, held at Arby’s by the Cruisin’ Crew for about eight years, first began with Salvation Army cruises at B.B. Rooners and Ponderosa Park before winding up at the Salem Arby’s Restaurant where the Cruisin’ Crew name took hold.

Jane Johnson said, “We started at B.B. Rooners in the back alley with a table, boom box, a microphone and tickets and we still charge the same as we did then for 50/50 tickets.”

Each year the Cruisin’ Crew banner has fanned out around the area, steadily growing and casting a wider net each year by adding more and more charitable cruises.

This year alone, they’ve organized 54 events and always, always raising money for local food pantries or a charitable cause has been been the at the heart.

Johnson said they have raised money for kidney transplants, heart patients, cancer, auto accident victims for over 15 years and the last 10 years the Salvation Army Angel Tree program and food pantries have been the focus.

It takes a lot of work, a lot of work that comes down to volunteering.

Johnson said, they’ve had many volunteers over the years and this year.

“The eight of us have worked and covered everything we needed to do this year with no problems, “ he said, but explained that they need more than someone out there selling tickets.

“We need someone to take over running and managing the Arby’s car cruise, and that is what we cannot find.

“So the Arby’s car cruise will be no more as of 30 Sept. 2017. I do hope someone will pick it up by the 2018 cruise season.”

Last year, the Arby’s Cruisin Crew raised $29,040 that was distributed to 11 Columbiana County food pantries. So far this year, the goal of $30,000 has been reached.

“As of Sept. 22, we have reached $30,2000 for the food pantries of Columbiana County, Johnson said.

The money will be deposited with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Mahoning County the first week of November.

Johnson said that in 10 years, the Cruisin’ Crew has raised close to two million pounds in food.

By mid October the social media pages will be taken down.

Johnson said, “We’ve got people talking about it (taking the Arby’s cruises over) but I think it’s just lip service.”

There will be cruises at the Social 45 north of Lisbon on Oct., 3, 7 and trunk or treat car show on Oct. 8.

There will also be Mastropietro Winery Octoberfest car shows in Berlin Center on Oct. 14 and 15. Both shows start at 1 p.m.