Spectators enjoy classic vehicles at Daily Herald Cruise Night
Even when times are uncertain, thankfully, some things remain the same.
One thing that has not wavered during the pandemic is auto enthusiasts' passion and joy for sharing their classic cars and motoring stories, as was evident during last week's Daily Herald Cruise Night at Bloomingdale Court.
There were a variety of cars on display at the event, which gave suburban residents a chance to experience some much-needed cruising fun while abiding by social distancing protocols.
One such interesting motoring story came from Winfield resident John Alletto.
Here's how it goes: Back in 1972, a group of DuPage County Sheriff deputies sought to honor Sheriff Wayne S. Shrimp. After mulling it over, the lawmen felt a special classic ride was just the ticket.
Putting out an ABP, a suitable candidate turned up in southern Illinois in the form of a worn and weathered 1955 Ford Mainline sedan. It was purchased and brought to the maintenance garage where officers rolled up their sleeves and put in loads of time off-hours to give it a full overhaul.
The final look is that of a gleaming period squad unit.
Under the hood, the V8 was rebuilt and the bodywork was straightened and given a new paint job, complete with authentic markings. Equipment was added, too, like a two-way radio, siren and roof-mounted gumball light.
In July of '72, Sheriff Shrimp proudly took possession and drove it in parades and other community events. After his departure, the vehicle stayed with the office, which continued to use it for special occasions.
Alletto came to know the classic 19 years ago when he began volunteering with the Sheriff's office. When he wasn't helping with duties like house safety watches or emergency traffic control, he was behind the Ford's wheel.
"If the car was being shown, I quickly became the 'go-to' guy to drive," laughs Alletto. "I have another old car and can put up with the lack of power steering and air conditioning."
The arresting sedan has been all around the suburbs, including appearances at parades in Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Downers Grove and Lisle, and events like the Chicagoland Emergency Vehicle Show.
After decades of faithful service, this summer the office was finally ready to retire the retro ride. It was sold, but with the countless happy hours together, Alletto quickly reached out to the new owner.
"I knew if I passed on buying it, it'd be something I'd always regret," Alletto said. "After all the years, it was a big part of me."
Although the cool cruiser has left the station, that doesn't mean it's not reporting for duty. Alletto continues to volunteer and continues to display the unique piece for the public, where it delivers delight and tons of smiles.
That's just how I encountered it: Alletto brought it out to last week's August Daily Herald Cruise Night. Because I appreciated his story and his many years of dedicated service to the community, I awarded him the Matt Avery's Pick trophy.
Also garnering an award at the event was Clive Fishman and his 1972 Corvette -- a vehicle he bought new at Joe Jacobs Chevrolet in Wilmette. Back then, Fishman had just sold his 1969 Mach I Mustang and was looking for a new performance machine. Bloomingdale Court, our event sponsor, awarded him that trophy.
What a way to savor a warm summer night.