Mopars at the Beach cruise through Georgetown, and they may be back next year

20 Oct

Mopars at the Beach cruise through Georgetown, and they may be back next year

The owners of about 100 custom-designed vehicles, including muscle cars, Jeeps®, and large trucks, made their way down Front Street in Georgetown this week – and they may be back for a longer stay next year.

They are in the region for the annual Mopars at the Beach event from Oct. 17-21 in Myrtle Beach, but they met at the South Strand Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealership in Pawleys Island on South Carolina’s Hammock Coast Oct. 18 before cruising through historic Georgetown on their way to McClellanville and back.

Mopars at the Beach is sponsored by Coastal Carolina Mopars, a nonprofit group that donates 100 percent of proceeds to benefit local charities – Quilts of Valor, Champion Autism Network of Surfside, Mission 22, and Kind Keeper Animal Rescue of North Myrtle Beach. In addition to the Cruise In event in Pawleys Island, vehicle owners are taking part in a Cruise In & Light Show event at Player1Up in Murrells Inlet, Charity Laps at Darlington Raceway and an All Mopar Show at Myrtle Waves Water Park with more than 300 vehicles expected to participate.

About 100 vehicles cruised down Front Street in Georgetown this week as part of Mopars at the Beach, a car show held in Myrtle Beach with some events on the Hammock Coast. (Photo by Clayton Stairs/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce)

Al Joseph, Main Street director for the City of Georgetown’s Planning and Community Development Department, said he and other city officials were excited to allow the Mopars group to drive through the business district.

“This event brought visitors from 22 states through our city and multiple Front Street businesses provided gift certificates and discounts to the attendees in gift bags,” he said. “Many of these people will hopefully come back to Georgetown at their leisure and experience everything we have to offer.”

Cathy Bridges, president of Coastal Carolina Mopars, has talked with city leaders about holding a Cruise In & Light Show, where many of the cars are decorated with lights, along Front Street as part of next year’s Mopars at the Beach event. Joseph said that he looks forward to planning next year’s Light Show event.

“The annual Mopar Cruise In & Light Show is a large, well-attended event that will bring visitors from all over the country and will showcase Georgetown on a large stage,” Joseph said.

Cathy Bridges said Georgetown would be the perfect location for next year’s Cruise In & Light Show. She said she hopes that Front Street can be blocked from end to end to make room for all the lit-up cars.

“We want to have the Light Show there,” she said. “Some people in our group have traveled 1,500 miles to get here, so going down to Georgetown is nothing to them.”

Muscle cars of all shapes and sizes could be seen on Front Street recently. (Photo by Clayton Stairs/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce)

Mopar, the combination of the words “MOtor” and “PARts”, is the exclusive source for authentic original equipment parts and accessories for the millions of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep®, Ram, and Fiat vehicles. If you own one of these vehicles, you can get access to Mopar’s dedicated service.

Josh Adams, sales manager of the South Strand Chrysler Dodge dealership, said the business was excited to host part of the Mopars on the Beach events.

“It’s neat to see the community come together because they come from all over to be part of this,” Adams said. “We are happy to part of it ourselves, and we are glad to see it grow every year.”

Coastal Carolina Mopars was founded in 2016 by Cathy Bridges and her husband, Tommy, a Viet Nam War veteran. After Tommy Bridges was presented with a Quilt of Valor for his service, he wanted to do something to give back to that group and that was the impetus for the Mopars at the Beach event.

“Being a Viet Nam combat veteran, I didn’t get a welcome home back then,” Tommy Bridges said. “When I got that quilt, it was my first real welcome home.”

Cathy Bridges explained that the first $10,000 raised during the event always goes to Quilts of Valor and that group holds an awards ceremony that coincides with the Mopars event in which veterans in the group are given quilts. This year, 13 veterans who came from out of state will receive the quilts.

“They are part of our car show family,” Cathy Bridge said. “When we find out they are veterans, we let Quilts of Valor know.”

She said last year the event raised $20,200 and it is on track to raise at least that much this year. With a total of $80,000 already raised since 2016, the event will reach $100,000 donated to local charities this year.

“We started small, but our Mopar family has grown every year,” Cathy Bridge said. “We are proud to reach the $100,000 mark in 2023.”

Michael Stark, incoming president of Coastal Carolina Mopars, stands with his car called “Ghost Rider.” (Photo by Clayton Stairs/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce)

Also this year, Cathy Bridge has begun passing the torch to Michael Stark, the incoming president of Coastal Carolina Mopars. He said that although he is new to the group, only joining last year, he is very enthusiastic about these cars and trucks, as well as the people who own them.

“During the welcome event on Tuesday, we had 120 vehicles this year, compared to 20 last year,” Stark said. “It was great to see all those people coming in. By the time Saturday comes, the main event, there will be a lot more.”

He also enjoys compiling lists of ideas for his car, a 2020 Dodge Challenger called “Ghost Rider.”

“Last year was the first year I went to the Mopar car show and I got a lot of ideas for my car,” Stark said. “You can look at things on tv and you can look through magazines, but when you see it physically on somebody’s car, you can really picture it on yours.”

He said his wife, Patricia, is now looking for design ideas for her car, a 2021 Chrysler 300.

“My wife is 100 percent behind me when it comes to Mopars,” Stark said. “Her car is getting designed in December.”

Stark said his favorite part about car shows is seeing children get excited about muscle cars and big trucks.

“I love it when kids come up to your car and they are excited about it and want to get a picture in front of it,” he said. “That’s the next generation, so I have no problem opening up my door and letting them go through my car because I can always clean it.”

Stark wants to encourage the next generation to be enthusiastic about car shows like this one.

“If you tell them to stop, they are not going to be interested anymore,” he said. “If you let them look at it and touch it, if they are 10 years old, maybe in 6 or 7 or 8 years, you might see them pull in with their own ideas, their own designs.”

Mopar owners who attended the car show agree that it is all about the vehicles. Michele Cunha from Watertown, Connecticut, was with her husband, Jose. They own a 2013 Dodge called Wicked 8.

“I just love cars, especially Mopars,” Cunha said. “I think they look tough and beautiful at the same time and almost every car has its own unique theme.”

Dean Craft of Socastee stands with his Ram truck called Black Pearl Power Wagon.” (Photo by Clayton Stairs/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce)

She said she was happy to be there, celebrating and having fun. She said she had never been to Georgetown, so she was looking forward to seeing Front Street with all the shops and restaurants.

“I’m excited about that,” she said. “It’s going to be awesome.”

Dean Craft from Socastee, who has been a member of Coastal Carolina Mopars since 2016, said his large black truck with flames painted on the sides is a Ram 2500 Power Wagon.

Since it was painted with a brilliant black pearl coat, he calls the truck his Black Pearl Power Wagon. He said he loves attending Mopar events.

“I get to show my truck all over the place,” Craft said. “I built it myself from the ground up.”

This was Lori and Dennis Bosarge’s first Mopar at the Beach event, but they attended Mopars at the Mountains held at Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Lori Bosarge is the vice president of the Alabama Chapter of Mopar Mommas with more than 2,000 members across the country and she goes by the name “Gangsta Granny.”

“Since my Dodge is all black, my son said it looks like a gangsta car,” she said. “So, I said I am the Gansta Granny and it stuck.”

Lori Bosarge, from Coden, Alabama, on the Gulf Coast just south of Mobile, was happy to be on the Atlantic Coast where he family can find fresh seafood. She said they were also enjoying getting to know some of the people who attended the show.

Lori Bosarge, pictured with her husband, Dennis, is the vice president of the Alabama Chapter of Mopar Mommas with more than 2,000 members across the country and she goes by the name “Gangsta Granny.” (Photo by Clayton Stairs/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce)

“Everybody is so complimentary to each other,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if we are at a show, at a hotel or a restaurant, it is just really good family time, and everybody loves cars.”

For more information, visit the Mopars at the Beach Facebook Page.

By Clayton Stairs / tourism manager for the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce and South Carolina’s Hammock Coast

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