Chicago Heights Southside Cruisers still popping their hoods

Raymond S. Hughes

Ron Mascitti and his wife, Mae, experienced a selection in 1988 of how to rejoice their 20th Anniversary: go on a cruise or acquire a new auto. Shortly afterward, the Chicago Heights pair rolled household in their model new Trans Am GTA, and he’s been cruising in it at any time due to the fact.

“The Trans Am was sitting down in the showroom, my jaw dropped and we acquired the car that day,” he reported.

Mascitti nevertheless has that auto they bought at the aged Peter Levin dealership in Chicago Heights. It is 1 of the explanations he grew to become president of the Chicago Heights Southside Cruisers.

The club commenced in the early 1980s and disbanded a several years afterwards. Mascitti and a team of fellow fanatics introduced the club back again in 1997.

“The initial show again we experienced about 100 automobiles,” Mascitti claimed. “It accelerated following that.”

The club’s most well-known display of the summertime, its “Burnout Present,” started off drawing countless numbers of spectators to verify out extra than 300 autos on display. They shows obtained so popular, Mascitti mentioned, that the Illinois Office of Transportation shut them down.

Things have settled down in the meantime, and lifelong Chicago Heights resident Mascitti and his fellow club associates search ahead to weekly auto displays and cruise evenings, such as a person they host Wednesday nights in the parking whole lot at Tuscan Gardens in Glenwood this summer by means of Oct. 12.

It’s not just about demonstrating off classic automobiles.

“We do a whole lot for senior homes, for animal shelters, hospitals and for veterans,” Mascitti reported. “It provides again reminiscences for the seniors when we deliver the previous autos. A single pair explained to me they experienced a 1962 Ford Falcon just like mine when they went on a highway excursion, it is tales like this that gets us extra concerned.”

The Chicago Heights Southside Cruisers also get from 4 to 7 p.m. Fridays at Chevrolet of Homewood, at Ridge Highway and Halsted Street in Homewood, wherever operator Steve Phillipos, grills and gives absent sizzling canine.

“This is a labor of love,” Phillipos explained. “The Southside Cruisers and I received collectively a long time ago when we experienced motor vehicle exhibits listed here. The Cruisers and I took it to a up coming amount when we started to have a 50/50 raffle for charity.”

Proceeds from the raffle have been donated to an animal shelter and one 12 months they went to a suburban police officer who was shot.

“The charity aspect is generally aiding an individual,” Phillipos reported.

Irrespective of working in autos for a dwelling, Phillipos has not entered a auto in the car or truck show.

“I do have a dream auto that I would like to have at the cruise evening just one day, a 1958 Chevy Corvette, black with white,” he claimed. “One working day I will get 1.”

He does get to hand out trophies at the Friday night automobile exhibits.

“We have best of present, greatest in class and 1 for a Chevy,” he mentioned. “Seeing the aged sporting activities automobiles push up is a lot of enjoyment. These cars and trucks are a large offer.

“It’s what you make of it — people really like their cars.”

Between those people people today is Brian Taborn, of Matteson, who attempts to make it to the present just about every week with his 1967 Dodge Dart GT.

“This is such a very good team of folks right here,” Taborn reported. “This is a prospect to satisfy new individuals and to share stories about our cars. That is what I love about this pastime and this neighborhood is the men and women.

“I like them a lot more than the vehicles,” he said with a chuckle.

A person of the most abnormal autos he has witnessed at this automobile present is a 1969 Dodge Tremendous Bee.

But Mascitti, the club president, mentioned entrepreneurs of more recent autos are welcome in the Southside Cruisers as well.

“A whole lot of people today want to exhibit antique autos,” he mentioned. “If you acquire one particular it is likely to acquire a good deal of function to restore and charge a whole lot of income. You can provide any vehicle you want, if it is cleanse and not beat up.

“We want to have a excellent time, and everyone who will come out to the shows to have a superior time.”

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Mascitti’s 1st car, which he acquired at age 15, would now qualify as an antique — a 1949 Pontiac. But it did not suit into the “not conquer up” classification, at the very least when he 1st received it.

“My friends and I pushed that car from Dixie Automotive to 24th and Butler on the Hill for the reason that it did not have a motor at the time,” he mentioned, noting that some of those aged buddies however clearly show up at cruise evenings and share memories of their youth in Chicago Heights.

“You go to these exhibits and commence talking about the old times, tranquil days. Some of my best recollections had been of my mom hanging out the sheets in the yard,” he claimed. “Hearing the whistle of the coach, we’d have to run and take the sheets down simply because the aged locomotives blew all the smoke and soot.

“It’s conversations at the exhibits that would make me comprehend I would not alter just one 2nd of my lifetime.”

The closing Chicago Heights Southside Cruisers vehicle show of the yr will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Oct. 1 at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 330 West Highland Generate in Chicago Heights. It’s a Trunk or Handle Exhibit featuring autos, trucks, a bike display and candy, and it’s a way to get younger folks intrigued in cruise evenings.

“I would like to see youthful men and women receiving concerned,” Taborn reported. “It’s a pastime which is harmless, that’s enjoyment, and you can fulfill superior individuals and love on your own.”

Mary Compton is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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