By Keith Gushard
A lot of thunder is expected to roll into downtown Meadville this weekend — but hopefully no rain will accompany it.
Thunder in the City, the free classic car and bike show sponsored by the Meadville-Western Crawford County Chamber of Commerce, returns for a fifth year on Friday and Saturday.
Several hundred motorcycles as well as dozens of classic cars are expected to be in Meadville for the event along with as many as 15,000 people for the weekend, according to David Stone, who chairs the event for the Chamber.
“We’re trying to stimulate the economy and get people to spend money downtown to enhance businesses,” Stone said. “We also want it to be a fun, family-friendly event.”
Friday night features a car cruise-in at 5 at Lang Motors off Park Avenue; the Channellock Challenge motorcycle competition at 6; Porcelain Bus Drivers band at 6; and fireworks at 9:30 p.m. The fireworks, sponsored by an anonymous donor, have a rain date of Saturday at 9:30 p.m.
The motorcycle competition is up for vote in four categories: Best Metric (foreign), Best Stock, Best Custom and People’s Choice.
Saturday features a classic car show at Diamond Park from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and a motorcycle and Corvette parade arriving downtown via Park Avenue between 10:30 and 11 a.m.
Motorcycles will leave Street Track ‘n Trail on Route 322 in Vernon Township at 10:30 a.m. for the third annual Rusty Hanaway Memorial Bike Parade. The Corvettes will fall in behind the motorcycles after the motorcycles pass Community Chevrolet on Route 322. Both groups are asked to report to their respective starting points on Saturday between 8:30 and 10 a.m.
Both groups then will proceed along Park Avenue to Chestnut Street. The motorcycles will park along Park Avenue and in lots north of Chestnut Street while the Corvettes will turn onto Chestnut Street and proceed to Diamond Park to park.
Saturday also will feature a motorcycle run from downtown Meadville to Pymatuning Lake and back, beginning at 3:30 p.m.
A kids zone will be set up at Diamond Park from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
There also will be live bands — The Grayhounds, Splitting Charlie, Familiar Spirit and Rick and the Roadhouse Rockers, — performing downtown at the stage on Park Avenue, north of Chestnut, beginning at noon.
Vendors also will be set up Friday night and Saturday along Chestnut Street from the Diamond Park down to Market Street and along Park Avenue, near Chestnut Street between Clinton Court and West Cherry Alley.
“It’s a great community event,” said Andrew Lincoln, whose business Lincoln Recycling is one of the many sponsors for the event. “We get involved because we want to support our local community.”
It’s the sponsorship by a wide variety businesses and organizations that help pay for the event, Stone said.
“Our sponsorships and our volunteers help make this go,” Stone said.
Any money in excess of what’s needed for the event will be used by the Chamber to establish a fund for building facade or capital improvements downtown, Stone said. The Chamber’s board opted to establish the fund as a way to give back to businesses and institutions that sponsor the event, he said.
For more information about The Fifth Annual Thunder in the City classic car and motorcycle event, visit the website of organizer Meadville-Western Crawford County Chamber of Commerce at meadvillechamber.com and click on the featured events link.