The Celery City Cruisers are one of Sanford’s longest-running car clubs, bringing classic rides and classic tunes to the city each month for the past 30 years
It’s just for fun, and that’s enough.
Thirty years ago, Herb Partridge drove his black 1952 Chevrolet to the parking lot of the Walmart plaza on Highway 17-92 in Sanford. He hooked a portable radio to a simple speaker box he’d built, and Herb and a few of his friends relaxed to the sounds of oldies on the radio as they talked about their classic cars and answered the questions of admiring passersby. There was no grand occasion, no formal gathering of officers and members. It was just a small group of guys who loved cars and camaraderie on a lazy Saturday evening.
Without even trying, the gathering became a monthly tradition, and each time the number of hot rods and other vintage automobiles grew larger. The Celery City Cruisers were born.
When the get-togethers eventually got too big for the plaza’s owners, the monthly car cruise moved to downtown Sanford proper. And to this day, on the last Saturday of January through October, you can still find the Celery City Cruisers and their classic cars along the downtown Riverwalk at Seminole Boulevard, and you can still hear oldies. The ‘56 Chevy is still there, too.
“Herb has since passed away, but I knew he wanted to keep his car in the cruise, so I bought it,” says current club president Dave Scott. “Herb named the car Gertrude, and that’s still what we call it today. It’s the club’s mascot.”
The makeshift speaker box has given way to a professional DJ who keeps the evenings lively. The club runs a raffle drawing each month for a three-hour lunch cruise on the Barbara Lee paddle boat, which leaves from the nearby marina. When the weather’s good, upwards of 100 cars can convene for the Saturday evening event, and a good time is always had by all.
“We do this for the city of Sanford and for the people who enjoy the cars,” says Dave. “We don’t make any money from it. We just do it because we love it.”
When able, the regular members of the club bring their cars to area charity events to help add some flair and excitement. They never ask for anything in return. In November, the Celery City Cruisers forego their regular gathering to participate in the famous Daytona Turkey Run, a massive classic car exhibition now entering its 43rd year. Instead of a Riverwalk meeting in December, the Cruisers enter their cars in Sanford’s holiday parade.
“I’ve hooked some spark plugs to Gertrude’s exhaust pipes, so I can get some good flames going,” Dave says with pride. “That’s always a big hit at the parade.”
On any given Saturday, you can expect to find ‘50s-era Fords and Chevys like Gertrude, a number of classic Corvettes, a 1931 Ford Model A that’s been “chopped and channeled” into a street rod, plus a number of other muscle cars and “a little bit of everything,” says Dave, who’s lived in Sanford since he was 6. He runs the club with the help of vice president Ted Mitchem and secretary Joyce Danopuk.
“We’ve got a good group,” says Dave. “And we have fun.”
Get Your ‘Rods Ready
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The Celery City Cruisers also host an annual car show on the second Saturday of November. This year’s show will be at the Museum of Seminole County History on Bush Boulevard in Sanford.