Sunday, August 17, 2008

Back to the Bricks

A crowd gathers for last years Back to the Bricks. (Photo by Stuart Bauer/The Flint Journal)


As the Back to the Bricks Cruise Weekend draws to a close, there's further proof that visitors will come to downtown Flint, provided it's the right kind of event. (A classic car extravaganza, for example, rather than Autoworld, a glorified food court, or a fancy hotel.)

Organizer Dave Wood told The Flint Journal that roughly 25,000 to 30,000 spectators graced several downtown city blocks and about 3,000 cars were parked there.

"It's all more than we expected," Wood said. "We have extra streets we didn't plan on filling that are all filled. People arrived at 5:30 a.m. for the 10 a.m. show."

This event makes me think that all the money that was wasted on Flint's pie-in-the-sky tourist schemes would have been better spent expanding the car collection and facilities at Sloan Museum, while promoting smaller-scale events. People like actual cars, not car-themed amusement parks.

13 comments:

  1. It's great to see that many people on the streets of downtown Flint again! I do hope they will work to keep this going. Congrats to all who made it happen. I wish I could have been there.

    I am concerned about comments that The Journal didn't give this a whole lot of promotion or coverage. Is it true?

    Hey, Flint, how about becoming home of the International Classic Car Museum? The possibilites are practically endless. There could be major events scheduled 4-6 times a year. Memories of our chrome-clad past may just lead to a shinier future.

    Think about it...somebody...please?

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  2. International Classic Car Museum... Hmmm. We could call it AutoWorld!

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  3. Sounds like a plan, Randall! Do what you know best, and Flint always did cars best.

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  4. But Papazif, the difference is that Flint already has a car museum -- Sloan -- that could be expanded. And Autoworld was way way too big, and it didn't have any actual cars, which is what people want to see.

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  5. I've been holding off any comments about the Back to the Bricks cruise and car show. So, here goes.

    I had a ringside seat for the cruise and watched many varied examples of the wonder years cruise by my office window.

    The cars were great, the people were great and the parties were great.

    Gordie, you are absolutely correct the Sloan museum is an excellent place for displaying autos from years gone by.

    I really don't think another museum is the answer. What made the Back to the Bricks the huge success was in one word ...activity.

    People were out and about, mingling and meeting new friends and getting reacquainted with others.

    The whole key was that people were actually out on the streets of downtown Flint, Burton, and Grand Blanc. While it may not be out of the norm for Burton and GB it is out of the norm for Flint. Especially downtown, and the good thing was that there were no murders associated with the cruise.

    I visited a couple of the local watering holes on S. Saginaw and my, my what a party at both places. While a little rowdy it was a manageable rowdy with the Flintoids having a reason to party hearty.

    One disturbing thing is that the Flint Urinal had a nice section the week before outlining all of the activities but little coverage after the event.

    I would like to see some numbers as they relate to the revenue genereated for the event. It had to be substantial...gas, food, beverages, lodging?, car parts and so on.

    Overall in my opinion a great event. But I agree with randall gearhart.....nothing brings out the crowds like the automobile. Say it any way you want but Flint is still a "car town".

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  6. Oh, I was just being sarcastic. It's what I do best.

    This event keeps getting better every year. The 2-day Rolling cruise had people lined up on Saginaw St. from Grand Blanc to the Durant Hotel. Not even rain showers on Wed. drove people away.

    The Journal did have a 2 page special section this year, but WJRT ABC12 covered every aspect.

    I got there at 7:30 Sat. morn. and was surprised at how many cars were already there. The party lasted well into the evening. Randall, it is great to see that many people downtown, and on their best behavior. The Woodward Dream Cruise was also held this weekend and Flint pulled this big crowd.

    I can't wait for next year.

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    Replies
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  7. Wow.. what I great event for Flint. I used to enjoy going over to the monthly cruise at the A&W in Flushing. Kinda small, but fun. I'm a mile or so from the Woodward cruise, and it just to big to enjoy.

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  8. Great comments, y'all--I mean you guys!

    I've been to the Sloan a few years ago and seen the few cars they have on display there. (I've got some pics I'll send to you, Gordon.) I didn't make it over to the Buick display (over by the Whiting), so I really don't know what's over there.

    I did visit Autoworld, but if memory serves me (and I'm not all that sure it does right now), it seemed to focus on the history of the auto industry--and it was more an amusement thing with a car theme. It was interesting, but, once you did it, you were done. There was no real reason to return.

    I don't even know that "museum" is what I would call this "thing" I have in my mind. It would be a "center", a hub, a showplace, a gathering place for those who love cars and treasure the memory of a day gone by.

    It needs to be downtown--otherwise, I don't think it would work. It could feature certain makes or models throughout the year. There could be a restoration garage.

    ...to be continued...

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  9. ...it would be a mistake, I believe to focus solely on the past in this new venture of which I speak. The memory of the automobile industry's glory days needs to be preserved for future generations. But, I also think that Flint--"Vehicle City"--has an opportunity to become a center for transportation innovation for the future--that is, if it doesn't wait too long.

    Yeah, it could be that it's already too late. And I'm not sure the city fathers "get it."

    There's no question that Flint was built on the tax revenues of GM and the generosity of Charles Stewart Mott. For the most part, those things and days are gone.

    The future of Flint is dependent upon the dreams of daring 21st century pioneers--not unlike those who dreamed and dared to make it what it once was.

    It's sad to know what the city used to be and to see it in its present state of decay. But, hey, everything is subject to change.

    It's got to start with the city leaders, though. If it doesn't happen there, it never will happen. There have got to be bigger and better ideas than, "let's cut down all the trees in the city parks and sell them to help meet the budget."

    ...to be continued...

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  10. Randall:

    Sounds like a great idea. However, don't expect "city fathers" to do anything constructive or proactive. Something like this will only work with private initiative. That is, real leadership of passionate and visionary people, leveraging cheap real estate, technical expertise, marketing savvy and fund-raising (didn't the art musem raise $26 million? There's real money out there for the right projects). Start small and grow organically. Get some free PR with the car culture, which is large, intenational and loves to engage in and support a challenging project.

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  11. You are absolutely correct in your assessment of this matter, OakParkMark.
    :^)

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  12. WHAT A GREAT EVENT, HAT'S OFF TO ALL THE PEOPLE WHO WORKED ON IT. I LOVE THE CARS AND TALKING TO THE GUY'S MY AGE WHO CRUISED SAGINAW ST. IN THE FIFTIES. I HAD A STOCK
    "55" CHEVY AND DRAG RACED JUST ABOUT EVERY NIGHT. I MIGHT ADD I NEVER LOST A RACE. WE CRUISED FROM
    VARSITY DRIVE IN ON 12TH ST. TO A&W DOWNTOWN AND CONTINUED TO COLONELS ON SAGINAW AND LEITH ST. AND THEN TO WALLI'S ON N. SAGINAW JUST SOUTH OF COLDWATER RD. BOY, THOSE WERE THE DAYS...STUCK IN THE 50'S.....THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES

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