Friday, February 28 will be a big day for this month's Americarna - the Taranaki festival of American motoring.
That's the day three important things happen:
The Americarna fleet will head south to visit Stratford and Hawera.
On their return it will run the gauntlet of street parties along New Plymouth's Mangorei Rd.
And then the Americarna vehicles and their drivers will participate in the highly popular Friday night "cruise" through New Plymouth's CBD.
For many Americarna participants, the Friday is always the best day because it allows them to get up and personal with the Taranaki public - and this year looks to be no different.
It'll all begin at exactly 9.30am that day, when the Americarna convoy of several hundred American cars will leave New Plymouth Racecourse and head to Stratford.
On their arrival in the central Taranaki town, the cars will be parked between the roundabouts on Broadway.
A retailer's market day will be in full swing, and for two hours the Americarna visitors and the public will be able to check out the bargains, or simply sit down and enjoy a coffee.
As the Stratford Town Clock strikes noon the cars will pull out of Stratford and head further south to Hawera. The Americarna fleet will enter the Hawera CBD after completing a big circuit down Waihi Rd, left on to South Rd, left again on to Caledonia St, and finally left again on to High St.
The cars will remain in the CBD until 2.30pm, and plenty of entertainment has been organised. Festivities include a performance by the band Freddie Flash and the Firebirds, from 12 noon to 3pm; there's a window dressing competition for everyone to check out; visitors can climb the 100-year old Hawera Water Tower for $1.50 and the town's famous Elvis Presley Museum, on Argyle St, will be open for the afternoon.
At 2.30pm the cars will relocate to the TSB Hub for a "gymCARna", an opportunity for some of the drivers to show off their driving skills over a set course in the Hub car park. This is a highlight of the afternoon, and a great chance for the public to see (and hear) some of the cars in action.
The Americarna fleet will head out of Hawera at 5pm for the return drive to New Plymouth. This trip will climax with the now-famous cruise down Mangorei Rd, where residents traditionally organise numerous street parties to greet the cars as they drive past - a real buzz for the Americarna entrants.
After turning off Mangorei Rd on to Devon St and then Molesworth St the cars will then enter New Plymouth's CBD, and begin the Friday night cruise.
Devon St will be closed to all traffic other than the Americarna vehicles until 9.30pm, and tens of thousands of people head into town to enjoy these celebrations. It is without doubt the highlight of every Americarna and not to be missed.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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