Hot August Nights: Oldies Music and Vintage Cars Come to Reno

Since August 1, 1986 Reno and Sparks has exploded with excitement with the music and vintage cars, mainly from the 50’s and 60’s. So, shine up your Chevy, Ford, GTO or other 20 year or older automobile, detail your little Deuce Coupe, and bring your hot rod to Reno or Sparks to help rejuvenate America’s love affair for classic cars and rock & roll. This years event is from July 30, 2005 to August 7, 2005.

Not only owners of these vehicles attend, but people from all over the world enjoy the “blast from the past, which allows everyone to relive the ‘happy days.’ It provides the opportunity for people, firsthand, to experience the 50’s and 60’s era, which was the time of innocence, prosperity, cars, and the birth of Rock and Roll.

Approximately 5,000 classic cars, from 36 states including Alaska and Canada, cruise the closed streets of Reno and Sparks while music from the era plays in the parking lots from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. nightly. Spectators see cars burn out and blow flames right before their eyes, high riders and low riders rise and fall randomly, some cars glows with neon lights of various colors, and some participants give candy and beads to the audience. Sometimes the drivers will select people from the audience and ask them if they’d like to ‘cruise’ witht them…talk about exciting!

Although cars are the stars of Hot August Nights, Rock ‘N Roll rules with its dozens of outdoor concerts, most of which are free. Past performers include the Righteous Brothers, Wolfman Jack, and Jan & Dean. The list for 2005 includes America, Herman’s Hermits with Peter Noone, Rare Earth, Village People, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Bobby Vee, Dynatones, and Stevie Nicks. Girls don their poodle skirts, grab a partner, and jive to the music.

Other special events are prom night, where people dance the night away; drag races; Show-n-Shine; a Swap Meet; Nostalgia Faire, and the Cool Car Showroom. A special feature this year is the James Dean 50th Anniversary Memorabilia Display Trailer, which will be in downtown Sparks. John Ascuaga’s Nugget will have a free James Dean Movie Marathon in the celebrity showroom, and James Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder will be displayed in Victorian Square (Sparks).

With more than 700,000 people expected to attend this year, it is best to arrive early. Everyone will be looking for the best spot to view the events and choice seats are limited. When we go (our favorite is Sparks because it’s less crowded), a small group arrives at 7 a.m. and ‘holds down the fort’ until the rest of our party arrives. This gives us the opportunity to walk around and view the cars, visit the local shops, see what different vendors have, and whatever our hearts desire.

The local shops and vendors have t-shirts, visors, hats, and various other original items for sale as souvenirs. Free items include pictures and autographs. Many visitors take pictures of their favorite or once-owned car with or without the owner. Most of the artists or groups have visiting and autograph signing sessions, which are also free. All of these items are true remembrances of an exciting and exhilirating event under the stars and heat of Hot August Nights.

After visiting the Hot August Night festivities, which is only one of many events that occurs in the Reno/Sparks area, it is clear to see why Reno, The Biggest Little City in the World, is no longer considered just a gambling town.

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