Bremerton residents resurrect old pastime | Kitsap Week

Bremerton’s culture can bring forth a variety of nostalgia from military times to catching a show at the Admiral Theater. Recently, an almost forgotten pastime has re-emerged onto the street, bringing back enthusiasm for automobiles and hanging out downtown.

“Cruising down here was a big deal for several decades,” said Chuck Mitchell, who sparked recent interest in cruising the downtown stretch once again.

“It started back in the ‘50s,” he said. “It was a big part of the identity of the town. That’s what everybody did. It was bumper-to-bumper downtown.”

Mitchell could recall how cruising waned. The car enthusiast, and co-owner of downtown Bremerton’s Rockit Roost, wanted to bring it back.

“For some reason it got shut down in the mid-80s,” Mitchell said. “I’d go to car shows and people would say ‘wouldn’t it be so cool if we could cruise again.’”

There was a misconception that Bremerton had an ordinance prohibiting cruising, Mitchell said. So he started making phone calls to the city. He discovered that there is no such ordinance.

“Nobody including the chief or the mayor had a problem with it,” he said. “And it slowly grew from that.”

A Facebook page — Cruisin Bremerton Saturday Nights — was launched to get the word out. Over the past couple months, cars have returned to cruise downtown Bremerton each Saturday night.

“Show up down here on Saturday night and cruise through down town like you did in the old days,” Mitchell said.

Cars usually gather at the Kitsap Bank parking lot in downtown, starting around 6:30 p.m. Folks chat and hang out, Mitchell said. Old friends meet up, and new friends are made. Then the cars roll out onto the road.

Mitchell said that some cars continue to roll into downtown as late as 8:30 p.m. Afterwards, many cars will park and people visit downtown’s nightlife, patronizing bars, grills and any place they can further hang out.

Mitchell notes that cruising is not necessarily about classic cars or hot rods. Those cars do show

up, he said, but there is no requirement for it.

“You cruise in whatever you have,” he said. “Lately, I’ve seen more of VWs, imports, low riders and some of the newer Camaros. One guy had a tricked out Chrysler 300.”

Ultimately, the happening isn’t entirely about the cars. It’s about socializing.

“It’s a social thing. Cruising is not an organized event,” Mitchell said. “We didn’t need somebody showing us how to do it. You just show up in whatever you have, and you drive.”

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