NEW LONDON — It was 1972 when George Hoxie got married. He was driving a 1965 Ford Thunderbird at the time.

Forty-nine years later, Hoxie, of Spicer, is once again driving a 1965 Ford Thunderbird.

He and his bride, Ann, drove it to the Country Stop A&W in New London on June 16 for the once-a-month Cruise Night that celebrates classic cars and the stories they represent.

George Hoxie, of Spicer, sits beside his 1965 Ford Thunderbird on June 16 during "Cruise Night" at the Country Stop A&W in New London  Hoxie bought the vehicle four years ago because it's the same model he was driving in 1972 when he was married. "I'm an old man doing the memory lane thing," he said. The free event, which draws classic and current cars from the region, is held 5 p.m. to dusk. on the third Wednesday of every month during the summer through September. Carolyn Lange / West Central Tribune
George Hoxie, of Spicer, sits beside his 1965 Ford Thunderbird on June 16 during "Cruise Night" at the Country Stop A&W in New London Hoxie bought the vehicle four years ago because it's the same model he was driving in 1972 when he was married. "I'm an old man doing the memory lane thing," he said. The free event, which draws classic and current cars from the region, is held 5 p.m. to dusk. on the third Wednesday of every month during the summer through September. Carolyn Lange / West Central Tribune
“I’m an old man doing the memory lane thing,” said Hoxie, who was sitting in a lawn chair next to his tan Thunderbird. “Yup. Yup. That’s the story.”

Hoxie bought the car four years ago in Nebraska. Other than fixing a few mechanical problems, the car was in pretty good shape.

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He likes to bring it to the free summertime classic car event, which features outdoor music and food specials at the A&W, to see other cool cars and to reminisce.

“Most of these guys, like me, have stories. Memories,” said Hoxie. “Old guys and the memory thing. That’s it,” he said with a laugh.

He speaks the truth.

Bud and Sharon Bloomquist of Willmar named their 1952 Buick Special "Ruby" because they bought the car for their 40th wedding anniversary, which is known as the ruby anniversary. Bud was driving that model of car when they were married. They drove the refurbished vehicle to the June 16 "Cruise Night" at the Country Stop A&W in New London. Carolyn Lange / West Central Tribune
Bud and Sharon Bloomquist of Willmar named their 1952 Buick Special "Ruby" because they bought the car for their 40th wedding anniversary, which is known as the ruby anniversary. Bud was driving that model of car when they were married. They drove the refurbished vehicle to the June 16 "Cruise Night" at the Country Stop A&W in New London. Carolyn Lange / West Central Tribune
Farther down in a long line of cars, Bud Bloomquist was standing next to his shiny black 1952 Buick Special that had distinctive red wheel hubs with the word “Ruby” on them.

“My wife (Sharon) and I bought it on our 40th wedding anniversary — that’s the ruby anniversary — and she named the car Ruby,” Bloomquist said.

“I had one of these when I married her,” he said.

When they bought the car 12 years ago, it was in bad shape, with more rust than paint showing. They’ve put 40,000 miles on the car after fixing it up. “It gets driven everywhere,” he said.

Cars and memories show up in force at cruise nights, which are held at venues all over west central Minnesota.

This is the 21st year the Country Stop A&W in New London has hosted Cruise Night, which is held from 5 p.m. to dusk on the third Wednesday of the month from May through September.

“It’s lots of fun,” said Greg Christenson, who started the monthly event in 2000, shortly after he purchased the business.

“There are collector cars, hot rods, street rods, rat rods, so it can go from the '30s up to the new ones,” he said. “People will bring in some brand-new Corvettes but they’ll have some old '30s too.”

Greg Christenson stands beside his 1966 Chevelle during "Cruise Night" at the Country Stop A&W in New London. Christenson, who recently sold the business to his son, Neil and his wife Katie, started the once-a-month summer car shows 21 years ago. The free event, which is held 5 p.m. to dusk the third Wednesday of every month, includes live outdoor music and food specials. Carolyn Lange / West Central Tribune
Greg Christenson stands beside his 1966 Chevelle during "Cruise Night" at the Country Stop A&W in New London. Christenson, who recently sold the business to his son, Neil and his wife Katie, started the once-a-month summer car shows 21 years ago. The free event, which is held 5 p.m. to dusk the third Wednesday of every month, includes live outdoor music and food specials. Carolyn Lange / West Central Tribune
Reliving memories is a key factor, with people driving refurbished cars from their high school years, Christenson said. But mostly it’s about fun and having a night where “people bring their classic cars and show them off and enjoy seeing other people’s cars,” he said.

On June 16, Christenson brought his own restored 1966 Chevelle to the show.

In April, Christenson sold the business to his son and daughter-in-law, Neil and Katie Christenson, who are continuing the Cruise Night tradition.

Depending on the weather, the event brings in 80 to 100 classic cars that line up on the large grassy area of the business, located on state Highway 23 in New London. It’s not unusual to have cars travel from neighboring towns like Benson, Long Prairie, Alexandria, Montevideo, Clara City and St. Cloud. “They come from quite a ways,” Christenson said.

People listen to live music during a recent "Cruise Night" at the Country Stop A&W in New London, where classic car owners bring put their vehicles on display. The free event is held 5 p.m. until dusk the third Wednesday of the month during the summer, through September. Carolyn Lange / West Central Tribune
People listen to live music during a recent "Cruise Night" at the Country Stop A&W in New London, where classic car owners bring put their vehicles on display. The free event is held 5 p.m. until dusk the third Wednesday of the month during the summer, through September. Carolyn Lange / West Central Tribune
Music is provided by a local artist at each event. In June, it was the Blues Brothers tribute band called 1060 West Addison Blues.

The July 21 event will feature music by Ava Hanson.

On Aug. 18, the musical group Custom Made will perform and, on Sept. 15, the 1950s band Addison Avenue will play.

A special show will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. July 31 at Bill Taunton Stadium prior to the Stingers baseball game in Willmar, and the Willmar Car Club will host Rootbeer and Rides car show from noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 12 at Country Stop A&W in New London with music by CJ Dafoe.

For more information about the schedule, call 320-894-5699.