EAST BEND — What began as a way to boost economic development and tourism ended with charitable donations to three groups in East Bend.
Business owner Mark Hobson reached out to the East Bend town board in June to request approval for hosting a cruise-in event in the town. The project quickly grew, with support from more than 50 businesses, into much more than organizers first anticipated.
The final East Bend Cruise Night, despite being postponed a week due to the weather, was the biggest of the three events held, Hobson said. He estimated around 2,500 attendees.
A special presentation was made during the event on Oct. 4 presenting donations to three local charities — Solus Christus, Impact Yadkin and New Vision Food Pantry. Each group was given $2,200.
Hobson said as they began to reach out to area businesses to help support the Cruise Night with financial support for logistical needs to host the event, the support was overwhelming. With in-kind and monetary donations they soon had more money than needed to run the event. It was then that Hobson realized he needed to find another use for those funds and he felt the best thing would be to use that money to help several charitable organizations.
“This came to a whole new level, it’s not just a cruise-in anymore, this is good family entertainment, something great for the town, but this is bigger than that and then we saw our focus change to helping others,” Hobson said.
Plans are already in the works to host four cruise-ins next year with dates planned for May, July, August and September. The format will remain the same with live entertainment, vendor booths and an ultimate goal of supporting local non-profits as well.
T-shirts, hoodies and calendars featuring some of the vehicles from this year’s East Bend Cruise Nights are available and organizers already are accepting business sponsorships for the 2019 events. For more information, visit the East Bend Cruise Night Facebook page or contact Mark Hobson at 336-813-1258.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-518-3049 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.