Draggin' Main to return to Paxton on Saturday

PAXTON — With the high temperature hovering around 50 degrees in the forecast for Saturday, Debi Chapman-Hermann is not expecting Mother Nature to ruin the annual return of Paxton’s tradition of “Draggin’ Main.”

Not that a little rain or snow could keep people away anyway.

“Yeah, with this weather, I was a little hesitant (about scheduling the event),” Chapman-Hermann said Monday after 10 inches of snow fell over Paxton the night prior.

“But I was like, ‘You know what? When we were in high school, the weather didn’t stop us. We still dragged Main.’ The true blue of Paxton are the ones who are going to be there regardless of the weather.”

Chapman-Hermann has led the organization of the annual car cruise since 2010. Draggin’ Main had been a popular activity among Paxton’s teenagers until about 10 years earlier, when the tradition came to a  halt amid an influx of problems created by out-of-towners.

This year’s cruise is scheduled for 5:30 to 11 p.m. Saturday, March 30, in downtown Paxton.

Chapman-Hermann expects a similar turnout as in the past three years. She said 150 to 200 people have indicated on her Facebook page that they plan to attend, but she expects a more realistic number of those who show up to range from 800 to 900.

“A lot of them say, ‘Me and five others’ (are going to go),” Chapman-Hermann noted.

Hundreds of vehicles of all kinds — from classic muscle cars to hotrods to limousines, perhaps even a motorhome or two —  are expected to be on hand. Also, monster truck driver Tom Meents of Paxton has made an appearance in the past.

People of all ages participate in the cruise, spending several hours driving up and down Market Street, commonly referred to as Main Street.

In some vehicles, there are multiple generations taking part in the social activity together.

“There’s a lot of reunioning, a lot of catching up with old friends,” Chapman-Hermann said. “I think that’s what they do the most — and watching the old cars and just having a good time.”

As a way to promote school pride and interaction between generations, participants are again being encouraged to create signs listing their high schools and their graduation years — and show them off during the cruise. Chapman-Hermann also hopes participants will play music from their vehicles that fits the era for which they used to “drag Main.”

Also, businesses downtown are being encouraged to stay open late Saturday to take advantage of the anticipated crowds.

“It’s a great opportunity (for exposure),” said Chapman-Hermann, who owns Mena’s Mercantile. “With my shop, a lot of people didn’t know we were here (until I stayed open during past Draggin’ Main events).”

The Tin Pan will be open and will have Draggin’ Main drink specials and no cover charge. Karaoke will be offered at Jumpin’ Jax bar, as well.

There have been minimal problems associated with the event.

“The very first year when everyone was really revved up, there were a couple of tickets (issued), but it was all in good fun; they accepted (the citations) graciously,” Chapman-Hermann said.

“The mayor even enjoys it. It’s been good.”

“It was great to see a lot of people back in Paxton — a lot of old faces, a lot of old cars, and a lot of new faces and new cars,” Mayor Bill Ingold said after the cruise in 2010. “And, I think, for the most part everybody was well-behaved.”

Police Chief Bob Bane said police will be on hand Saturday night to enforce traffic laws. Bane said police will be keeping an eye out for illegal U-turns, squealing of tires or blaring of horns, among other traffic violations. Bane said the city’s noise ordinances will be strictly enforced, as well.

The cruise route is not official, but Chapman-Hermann is advising cruisers to stay on Market Street. To avoid making a U-turn, she said people can turn around to head back down Market Street by using Holmes Street on the north end of the downtown and the G&S Service Station parking lot or the Family Dollar parking lot on the south end of the downtown.  Turning left on Holmes Street will allow participants to take another left on State Street to access the southbound lanes of Market Street.

As of Tuesday, the forecast for Saturday called for partly cloudy conditions with a high temperature of 51 degrees and a low of 31 degrees.

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