Thunder in the Square promises to make noise in downtown Hagerstown
Unique cars, trucks, motorcycles and antique tractors will motor into downtown Hagerstown Friday, May 31, filling the streets in four directions for Thunder in the Square.
Now in its eighth year, the Alsatia Club event will feature street rods, pro street, stock vehicles, originals and more.
Thunder in the Square chairman Doug Snyder said the event usually draws around 200 vehicles and up to 1,000 spectators.
While it began as an annual event, last year, at the request of participants, the Alsatia Club began hosting it twice a year – once in May and again in September.
“We made it twice a year because it is such a popular event,” Snyder said. “We were asked by the people who bring cars and vehicles if we could do two per year.”
Participants come mainly from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland.
“Any vehicle that you are proud of and you want people to see the work that you have done, you can enter. Stock, old, new, there is really no limit,” he said.
While some car shows are held more frequently, Snyder said, keeping Thunder in the Square as a bi-annual event helps to keep the quality of vehicles that participate at a premium. People are more willing to bring rare vehicles out for a special event.
“Last year was the first year that we had a Lamborghini, and we had somebody show up with a Bentley,” he said.
Trophies are awarded to vehicles in ten different classes, including the Mayor’s Choice Award, Import, Rat Rod and others.
The Cruisers, a Tri-State area band that plays classic rock, southern rock, ‘50s and country music will perform at University Square at 32 W. Washington St. In an effort to keep the mood festive across the span of the display, a DJ will play music up the road in the 100 block.
Closer to the square, there will be barbecue and lemonade vendors.
Downtown businesses are receptive to Thunder in the Square, Snyder said. Some restaurant owners have told him that the evening is among the biggest of the year in terms of sales, he said.
During the event, vehicle owners pop their hoods and display their engines.
“They like to show off all the work they’ve done over the years on their vehicles,” Snyder said. “A lot of work goes into these vehicles and people want to show that off and people want to see that. They really enjoy showing that effort to others.”
Thunder in the Square participants pay $10 for registration. Proceeds from the event go to support the Mummers Parade, the Alsatia event which it bills as “the largest single annual event in Hagerstown.” The parade, held in October, is one of the largest nighttime parades on the East Coast, and draws nearly 10,000 participants and 100,000 spectators.
“The Alsatia Mummers parade has been going on for more than 90 years,” Snyder said. “We want to keep that alive for our grandchildren and their children, for as many years as we can continue to do that.”
Thunder in the Square continues to be a viable means to support that end.
“Cars have always been popular in Hagerstown since I can remember,” Snyder said. “As a kid growing up, this has always been a car crazy neighborhood. People love to come in and see some older cars, along with some newer vehicles, customized cars and street rods. It takes them back to their childhood and to their memories as a kid growing up in town.”
Both the vehicle show and the Mummers Parade support the Alsatia’s goal to promote the downtown area of Hagerstown.
“We want to get people out to enjoy our downtown area, to get them into local restaurants,” Snyder said. “The downtown has nice things that people can enjoy with their families and it can be a nice place to spend the evening. We want people to get downtown and see that.”
Top photo: This 1970 Ford Maverick, owned by Jay Hawks, was on display at a previous Thunder in the Square in downtown Hagerstown. (Herald-Mail file photo)