If there are two things Summerside loves, it's history and a party. Why not combine them?
Every Friday night July and August, Water Street in downtown Summerside is packed with people as live music and laughter fill the air, folks are dancing, and everyone checks out the pristine classic cars that flank some major roadways.
"Classic Car Nights" is a fairly recent tradition, dating back to 2019 when founder Robert Gallant wanted to see more buzz in the downtown core as the weekend approaches.
Now, three years later, there are more than 20 major sponsors on board, including the presenters Downtown Summerside and Michael's Pizzeria, as well as cash and prize donations from residents to drive interest even further.
"It's absolutely amazing that people have come to love this. People are seeing people that they haven't seen in years," Gallant said.
"The cars are a good thing — don't get me wrong, I'm a car guy — [but] what it's about is the social part."
Every car has a story to tell
The fun takes place between Central Street, by the Consolidated Credit Union, and Granville Street and reaches up through Spring and Summer streets too.
It runs from 6-9 p.m. each Friday (weather permitting), with '50s and '60s live music to go along with upward of 200 vintage cars.
It's free to the public and Gallant said people can see vehicles from pretty much every decade. Even though it's called Classic Car Nights, he said every car has a story. So new or old, he wants people to bring their cars down and show them off.
"You don't know the story behind these people's cars," he said.
"These people are attached to their car and it means a lot to them, so if they feel that they'd like to show it, absolutely! Bring it down. We're so fortunate to have this many people come down here."
'It's just so joyful'
Gary Ip is from Hong Kong and has lived in Summerside for two years. This summer was the first time he's been to a vintage car event
"You don't see these kinds of trucks everyday," he said on a recent Classic Car Night, pointing to a classic bronze-coloured two-door Chevrolet truck.
"This is a great event. It's wonderful. I think I've taken a couple dozen pictures."
Liam Nauss, who "lives for cars," was 14 and attending with his little brother.
"This is impressive," he said. "A lot of cars here don't look like they'd be fast, but they're freaks of nature.
"I'm coming back a lot."
Kathleen Rice drove in from Breadalbane for the occasion. She said she first got into cars when COVID-19 hit, and she proudly owns a 1983 Lincoln Continental Valentino edition.
She's worked on restoring it, and is now searching for a forever home for it. In the meantime, going to events like this just reminds her of how much she loves the world of vintage cars.
"There's the stereotype that girls can't be into cars and I wanted to prove that wrong," she said.
"It's amazing to me to see so many different people, different ages, ethnicities and genders. It's amazing.
"It's wonderful. So happy to see everyone. It's just so joyful."