Americarna has cruised into The 'Naki and it's expected to be better than ever.
The event celebrating American cars kicks off in Taranaki today and organisers are saying with the fresh spin on this year's lineup the event is going to be the best one yet.
Event co-ordinator Toni Fabish says the two considerable changes that have been made to the event - a day cruise to Whangamomona instead of Opunake and AmeriCARnival which will replace the traditional country fair - will enhance the Americarna experience.
"I think the changes are fantastic, they will be really enjoyable," she says.
The adjustments were made to keep entrants enthusiastic about the event. But organisers also want to further involve the general public so everybody in the area and its visitors can have the opportunity to enjoy the experience together.
"We wanted to create a free event - AmeriCARnival - for the public to attend so they can come into town and check out the cars and enjoy the day."
Americarna organisers have been working hard to bring the event to Taranaki once again, and Fabish says this year they will have at least 600 vehicles take part, Friday morning being the last opportunity to register.
"We're very happy with 600; it's very manageable with all of the travelling we are doing and the amount of cars that we have to move."
More than 60 per cent of participants are from out of Taranaki, with the majority coming from various parts of the North Island, a contingent of about 20 vehicles has come from the South Island and the rest are locals.
"We also have visitors from the US, Australia and Canada, and we organise transport for them."
The festivities officially began yesterday with the team taking registrations all day and an entrant's welcoming party was held last night.
At 10am today a convoy of American beauties depart on a day cruise that will take them along the Forgotten World Highway to Whangamomona.
There everybody will have the opportunity to take part in some good ol' country activities before having lunch.
"They are going to be doing gumboot throwing, wood chopping, whip cracking and sheep shearing," says Fabish.
"The people out at Wanga are renowned for putting on a great day for their Republic Day so I am sure they will do the same for Americarna."
She says it is just the point of difference they are looking for and it will create a new adventure for the participants.
"Opunake is a fantastic destination and we look forward to getting back out there again but we just wanted to give the event something different, something we haven't done before."
Tomorrow the convoy will head to Waitara and then on to Inglewood to park up and showcase their vehicles while enjoying the festivities the locals there have to offer.
Later in the day about 100 participants will take their cars to 15 rest homes in the New Plymouth district.
"The idea is to take the cars and part of the event to the elders in the community, those that are less mobile.
"A lot of them have great memories of the cars and some of our entrants are happy to take them for a drive around the block," says Fabish.
Friday morning participants will make their way to South Taranaki with stops in Stratford and then Hawera where they will stage the GymCarna event at the TSB Hub.
On their return to the CBD to kick off the infamous Friday night cruise where thousands are expected to line Devon St to witness the American motorcars, the convoy will travel down Mangorei Rd, where they can be guaranteed a supporters street party will cheer them by.
Saturday brings a close to this year's Americarna and the unveiling of AmeriCARnival.
The entire New Plymouth CBD from Eliot St to Robe St will be closed off from 7am to 4pm for the free event that has something for everybody.
- Taranaki Daily News