SOMERVILLE, NJ - Friday nights on Main Street are synonymous with polished chrome bumpers, fenders with curves, big block engines and more than a few sets of fuzzy dice hanging off rear view mirrors.
Mayor Brian Gallagher said as many as 5,000-10,000 car enthusiasts and visitors come to Somerville on a Friday night to enjoy the dichotomy of Detroit iron, from Model T Fords, big fin Cadillacs and high-powered Corvettes to custom hot rods, muscle cars, motorcycles, restored pick-up trucks, imports and oddities that line Main Street between Bridge Street and Doughty Street.
The automotive jamboree also brings with it thousands of dollars spent in stores and restaurants throughout the borough on a Friday night.
In deference to the hot rods, cruisers, vintage and exotic cars that have made the borough a destination for car collectors and oglers throughout the tri-state metropolitan area and beyond,the Borough will shut down its high-tech Main Street digital parking meters on Friday nights between 5-8 p.m. between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
"We have to weigh what they bring to town - people, culture and great press," said Mayor Brian Gallagher.
"Hot Rod" magazine rates the Friday "Cruise Night" tops in the nation, according to Gallagher.
"Hat's off to what these men and women do for Somerville," Gallagher added.
"Cruise Night" is a Friday night tradition that's been going on for decades.
Technically, lawmakers could have chosen to enforce the $1 per hour charge to park along Main Street, which extends from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Metered rates on Main Street were increased and extended late last year as part of the borough's parking overhaul, but after owners tucked away their cars in the garage for the winter.
Councilwoman Jane Kobuta pointed out that many of the car owners rumble in to town early in the afternoon to park their cars and spend the day; council members agreed those early birds should be required to pay the hourly fee leading up to 5 p.m.
The Council approved a resolution by a 6-0 vote that will permit the "Cruisers" to park their cars for free from 5-8 p.m. Friday nights between Memorial Day and Labor Day on Main Street between Bridge Street on the east end of town to Doughty Street on the west end of town.
Borough Clerk Kevin Sluka said the borough will turn off the Main Street meters between 5-8 p.m.
"This sends a signal of support that we appreciate what they do for the town," Gallagher said.