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The tradition continues

Ja-Mar Cruise has first showing at FD Ford

-Messenger photo by Elijah Decious
Denver Gardner, 7, tries to reach the pedal in his dad’s 1973 Plymouth Fury at the Fort Dodge Ford Toyota Ja-Mar Cruise Friday.

Though most of its cars are old, the tradition is something that manages to find renewal every year. Despite a near cancelation in May, the tradition managed to pull it off again Friday.

Though its Fort Dodge namesake, Ja-Mar Drive In, could not serve as the backdrop for this year’s event, attendees were grateful to have just one familiar event come through this year, with a new name and location: the Fort Dodge Ford Toyota Ja-Mar Cruise at the dealership on Fifth Avenue South.

A different location allowed many of the same old cars, whose nostalgia Fort Dodge revels in, to continue the tradition. There, cars filled the lot and brought many attendees to revel in the glory of nostalgia during a pandemic when, perhaps, nostalgia has never been more attractive.

For the past 42 years, hundreds of souped-up classic cars would fill up the parking lot behind Ja-Mar the first Friday of every June, July and August. Ja-Mar owner Jerry Jordison announced the cruise would come to an end earlier this year as Crossroads Mall construction was slated to begin.

“I’ve always been blessed being able to use the Sears parking lot and I knew it wasn’t my lot,” Jordison said. “I knew one day it would maybe come to an end.”

-Messenger photo by Elijah Decious
Even stuffed bears can appreciate the qualities of a vintage Chevrolet convertible, whose roominess echoes the pleasantries of a bygone era.

Starting this year, Fort Dodge Fort Toyota will move all the cars off their lot to make way for the real classics, about 200 cars. Judging by attendance, they needed most of that room.

“We’re honored to continue it and excited for families to enjoy it,” said Matt Johnson, general manager of the dealership. “We’re honored to carry the tradition over after 42 years.”

And with just about everything else canceled this summer, they’re glad the public has something to enjoy — a celebration of automobiles, motorcycles, family and community.

Celebrating 24 years in the community, Johnson said fond family memories attending the car cruise over the years compelled the dealer to ensure the tradition didn’t die. From project cars to daily drivers to show cars, he said they know many of the vehicles have a story that can go back generations.

Some go to instill an awe of the vehicles in their children and grandchildren.

-Messenger photo by Elijah Decious
Xander Pannkuk, 6, drives his remote toy Dodge Charger as he peruses other muscle cars on the lot at the Ford Toyota Ja-Mar Car Cruise Friday evening.

“I’ve been blown away by the outpouring of support from those who say they always enjoy going to it and taking the grand kids to experience it now,” Johnson said. “It’s heartwarming when we hear that.”

Others go because showing off is, simply, fun.

“Corvettes only come in red,” joked Jerry Giesking, who owns a 1959, 2004 and 2019 Corvette in the fire-engine color with his wife, Bonnie.

Some bring in the car they got as a project, proud to integrate their tradition with the Ja-Mar tradition.

“It’s nice to keep the tradition going,” said Paul Gardner, who ate at Ja-Mar’s before he came over with his son, Denver, in their 1973 Plymouth Fury. For Ja-Mar food fans, the new location is less convenient, but adequate.

-Messenger photo by Elijah Decious
Attendees at the Ja-Mar Car Cruise, hosted Friday at the Fort Dodge Ford Toyota Lincoln dealership, were glad the tradition was able to keep going this year after a near cancelation, giving parents and grandparents a chance to instill a sense of marvel for the cars they grew up with into the next generation.

The next car show on the lot is being planned for August 7.

-Messenger photo by Elijah Decious
Fort Dodge’s Ja-Mar Car Cruise was held with a new location this year at the Fort Dodge Ford Toyota Lincoln dealership.

-Messenger photo by Elijah Decious
A 1950s themed car displays Elvis, a jukebox, a vintage barbie and other retro nostalgia in its trunk on Friday.

-Messenger photo by Elijah Decious
Muscle car owners aren’t just about the speed — they have a sense of humor, too.

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