One of the longest-serving volunteers and organizers of the Langley Good Times Cruise-In didn’t even start out a classic car buff.
Lori Watts was driving a typical Chevy pickup truck 20 years ago when the idea of a car show was floated for Langley City.
“I’ve still got it, actually,” said Watts. “It can probably go in the show now!”
Watts was working with the Langley Downtown Merchants Association when businesswoman Helen Stoddart suggested she get involved.
“I told her I would come on board and help out with it,” said Watts.
That was the very first year. Watts has now worked with a number of Cruise-In presidents and a rotating cast of volunteers and directors to stage the annual show, ever since.
Not a car buff, Watts, who has worked with the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce, started as a general director.
She has long held the position of secretary-treasurer for the volunteer-run car show.
But a title didn’t mean you weren’t out there working, especially in the early years.
Watts has done traffic control and parked cars, set up barricades, and moved garbage cans.
In the early years, staring with the first Cruise-In in 1997, there were around 30 volunteers total. “Now we’ve got close to 200,” she said.
“The show was also a lot smaller, the first couple of years.”
There were around 300 cars in Cruise-In’s first year, then 700 the following year.
“And then it just went crazy,” said Watts.
The next few years of Cruise-Ins saw its numbers explode.
Within a few years, estimated crowds of 150,000 people descended on Langley City – a number larger than the combined population of City and Township put together. Restaurants ran out of food, and the streets were wall-to-wall people.
The volunteer crews expanded to around 200 people, with subcommittees that looked after the various aspects of the show, from parking and traffic control to registering the cars.
Although she didn’t start out a car buff, being around classic and custom autos for years did start to rub off on Watts.
“There’s really something spectacular on every car, whether it’s the dash, or the tires, or the paint job,” she said. “I have come to appreciate them.”
And she wound up with her own classic auto as well.
Her 1964 Mercury Comet is a proud possession and still runs well.
Watts spotted the Comet in the parking lot near the Tim Horton’s off 203rd Street on a Friday night and saw that it was for sale.
“I said, I want that one,” she said. “It was love at first sight.”
Watts is looking forward to the new Cruise-In as well, and noted over the summer that things were going pretty well so far with this edition of the Cruise-In.