IT'S ALL IN THE FAMILY — Mark Ferrell wheels his 1931 Model A coupe with Jerry Ferrell riding next to him, Shirley Ferrell and Amy Stevens in the rumble seat as they follow the pack of cars, trucks, motorcycles through the traditional cruisin' route of Independence. Steve McBride | Courtesy Photo
IT'S ALL IN THE FAMILY — Mark Ferrell wheels his 1931 Model A coupe with Jerry Ferrell riding next to him, Shirley Ferrell and Amy Stevens in the rumble seat as they follow the pack of cars, trucks, motorcycles through the traditional cruisin' route of Independence. Steve McBride | Courtesy Photo

Friday night turned out to be one of the hottest nights of the summer. We're not talking temperature but the opening night for the All Wheels and Cruisin' Indy monthly downtown gathering for fun, music, food, people, motorcycles and cars.

The new All Wheels and Crusin' Indy event began in 2017, when Terry Scott, Truman Kolb and Matt Bateson wanted to revive the way kids in the 1960s and 1970s socially gathered for Friday cruising the streets of Independence. Kolb is quoted as saying, "We asked ourselves. 'What did we do before social media came along?'...We cruised."  

The evidence was clear Friday as both sides of the street in the 200 block of Penn. Ave was packed with cars and motorcycles of all kinds, shapes and sizes. "It's not about how 'Tricked-out' your car is, it's about coming together to hang out with friends and make new ones," said Kolb. "We want people to come out and have a good time with other people." 

Every fourth Friday All Wheels and Cruisin' Indy will gather in downtown Independence at 6 p.m. for live music, a trip to the American Soda Fountain and a chance to see some of the wildest hot rods and mean machines from the area. At 8 p.m. everybody jumps in their cars or motorcycles and lines up to start the cruise. The procession followed the old traditional route from more than 40 years ago. Some of the original hangouts are now gone but the route is still there. 

As an added bonus for those who were cruising from 8 p.m to 9 p.m. They were eligible for a drawing at the end of the cruise. "We gave away $150 to a lucky winner whose name was drawn. We also drew names for gifts that were provided by our sponsors," said Kolb. He added, "We have had businesses coming to us asking us if they could be a part of this event. That is exciting to me." A couple of new sponsors are Quality Motors and Matcor. "This is exciting when fine businesses as these come to us wanting to support this effort," added Kolb.

From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. the crowd of more than a couple of hundred listened to the classic rock from "Straight Away" and enjoyed the popular "walking tacos" from the soda fountain. "We had people coming in all day to make sure we were going to have our walking tacos," said Linda Doub, American Soda Fountain manager. The soda fountain is located at the Independence Pharmacy which used to be the old DeFever Rexall drug store. Terry Scott, Independence Pharmacy and American Soda Fountain owner, first organized the All Wheels night more than 10 years ago with motorcycles and then expanded to include cars. "After a few years, the numbers began to fade and that is when Truman and Matt came along and mentioned how they wanted to revive cruising Independence. We all got together and combined our efforts into what you see now," said Scott.

The next All Wheels/Cruisin' Indy night will be July 27 and the season will conclude Aug. 24. "Every event will include a band. In July we will have Caddywhompus and in August we will introduce a new songwriter/performer to our area, Mark Metzger. 

When you walk into the old fashion soda fountain it's like walking back to the 1950s. If you close your eyes for a moment you can see the kids lining the bar stools asking the soda jerk behind the counter for a soda phosphate of an extra thick malt with their cars lined up outside the store.

"The soda fountain is open everyday with specials, homemade pies, biscuits and gravy and breakfast," said Doub. They are open 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.  

As another successful event came to an end, Kolb looked around and said, "It feels good to live in a community that you can come to an event like this and create new friendships with people you may never have the chance to meet."