The annual Cruisin' for a Cause event returns to Downtown Park Hills for its fifth year on Saturday. This year's cruise has expanded to include a Haunted Park & Hayride through Columbia Park.
Cruisin' for a Cause benefits the Park Hills Senior Center's Meals on Wheels program, which provides food for hundreds of senior citizens in the area.
Park Hills Senior Center Director Holly Buxton said this year had been exceptionally difficult for the meal program financially, with the increased cost of food and packaging. She said the program delivers about 300 meals per day at the cost of about $5,000 per week. Buxton mentioned that they spend $1,200 per month just purchasing milk.
"I don't think people realize that we do that many meals out of here," said Buxton. "So we're hoping everyone will be very generous. And I know everyone's struggling, but I'm hoping everyone will make the love donations and dig deep."
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The portion of Main Street from Science Street to Community Drive will be closed from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. when cruising starts. She asked that all vehicles be moved from parking spots on that section on Main Street by 6 a.m. on Saturday.
Buxton noted that portions of Coffman Street would also be closed, and there will be a detour route around the event area for passing drivers.
Festivities will begin at 10 a.m., and several events will take place throughout the day, ending with cruising from 6-9 p.m. A fireworks display, sponsored by Jerry's Fireworks, will cap off the evening at the end of the cruise. The upper portions of downtown will provide the best vantage point for viewing the fireworks as they will be set off near the Park Hills Fire Department.
New this year is the Haunted Park & Hayride in Columbia Park. Buxton said the Haunted Park is organized by Brandy Marler, Kelley (Marler) Sanders, and Vickie Barton, or the Twisted Sisters, as Buxton calls them. Many details of what the Haunted Park will feature have been kept secret; however, Buxton did mention that there would be a "cannibal cafe." She said the Twisted Sisters had thousands of dollars worth of scary Halloween stuff at their disposal, so she was most excited to see the new attraction at this year's event.
Buxton explained that the evening's cruising would begin at 6 p.m. with a line of vehicles starting in the area of the Main Street and Community Drive intersection and cruising through town over to Columbia Park. Once there, the line will make the first trip through the Haunted Park. Event-goers are then free to go through the park in their cars or by hayride until 9 p.m., when cruising ends.
Event volunteers will be wearing light grey T-shirts with the Cruisin' for a Cause logo and can answer any questions that people might have and will be collecting donations. Volunteers will have donation buckets and will be located at the four-way stop at Main and Coffman Streets and the Haunted Park during the cruise.
Aside from the cruising, a lot of the action will take place in the municipal parking lot where the event stage is located.
A beer garden, sponsored by the Old Mine House, will open between 12:30-1 p.m. near the event stage.
Events on the stage will begin at 10 a.m. with the Little Miss & Mister Cruisin' 2022 pageant. Event Organizer Samantha Vaughn said only two contestants signed up this year, both female, so the pageant will be shorter than usual.
At 10:30 a.m., the talent show begins on the stage. The show features contestants in the adult and child categories. The first-place winner will be awarded a cash prize, while the first, second, and third-place winners will receive trophies.
Talent show contestant entry fee is $10. Participants can register the day of the show or pre-register before Saturday by calling the senior center at 573-431-4974.
After the talent show, the Central Elementary Honors Choir will be on stage at 12:30 p.m., singing a few Halloween songs before holding a mummy contest.
From 2-6 p.m., event-goers can enjoy live music from the band Medallion rocking the main stage.
The parking lot will also host about 32 vendors with the widest variety of booths. Buxton noted that there would be many things to check out, including a caricature artist and vendors showing furniture, whipped soaps, signature hot sauces, designer clothing and fashion, flowers and plants, jewelry, hand-crafted goods, and more.
Across the street from the parking lot, a cornhole hole tournament is set to begin at 2 p.m. at the Slauterhouse Craft Parlour. Registration is at 1 p.m., and the fee is $10 per team. All the money collected for entry fees will go to the Meals on Wheels program.
The kids' area will be located in the parking lot of Southeast Missouri Credit Union. There, children can enjoy activities, including face painting, crafts, a bounce house, and more. The area will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is hosted by the Park Hills Library.
The annual car show, hosted by Foothills Car Club, expects a large turnout of cars, featuring more than a hundred participants. The auto exhibition will take place on Downtown Main Street's lower portion between Coffman and Science Streets.
Registration for the car show starts at 10 p.m., and the entry fee is $20. The first 50 registered participants will receive a display plaque. Attendees can check out the autos from noon-2 p.m. and vote for their favorites. The People's Choice Awards will be announced at 3 p.m. For more information about the car show, call 573-431-3577.
It would not be a Downtown Park Hills event without food trucks, and Buxton said there would be plenty of area favorites set up on the upper portion of Downtown Main Street, serving all day and during the cruising.
For those unable to attend Saturday's event but still wishing to help out the cause, Buxton said donations could be dropped off or sent to the Park Hills Senior Center, located at 224 W. Main St., or the Park Hills City Hall. Donations to Cruisin' for a Cause are tax-deductible.
Buxton said she was hoping for a sizable turnout on Saturday and noted that the family-friendly event would have something fun for everyone.
"We've got such a great community here. We really do," said Buxton. "It's actually in the hands of the community to make this a success. We can plan, and we can do what we have to do on our end, but it's up to the people to come out and enjoy the event."
The Park Hills Senior Center would like to thank all of the individuals and businesses sponsoring this year's events. Buxton said she was thrilled to have so many local sponsors this year and could not thank them enough for their contributions.
So far, the forecast for Saturday predicts nice weather; however, Buxton said the event would be held on Sunday if storms do happen to roll in.
For more information, visit the fundraiser's Facebook page: "Cruisin' for a Cause - A Park Hills Meals on Wheels Benefit," or contact the senior center at 573-431-4974.
Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com