The Chester County Sheriff’s Office is revving up to host its Sixth Annual Cruise Night on Friday, Aug. 18, from 5 to 9:30 p.m. at West Chester University’s Farrell Stadium, and the public is invited to enjoy the festivities. Admission and parking are both free.
Organizers say they have no plans to shift into autopilot for this popular event because it continues to grow. Proceeds benefit the Chester County Sheriff’s K-9 Unit, which now includes 10 dogs and is financed primarily through private donations.
Chester County Chief Deputy Jason Suydam said the event creates multiple beneficiaries. Car dealers and law-enforcement agencies get to showcase their vehicles, producing an impressive display the public can enjoy. Thirteen classes of vehicles, running the gamut from antiques and hot rods to state-of-the-art law-enforcement cruisers, will compete for cash prizes.
“It’s a fun, family-oriented event,” Suydam said. “And we’re very appreciative of the support of the sponsors, businesses, community members, and law-enforcement partners who help make it happen. Some of the car dealers have been with us since the beginning.”
In addition to a high-octane array of horsepower, Cruise Night will feature a deejay, food vendors, door prizes, a 50-50 raffle, a dunk tank, and children’s activities, such as a moon bounce and face-painting.
One of the evening’s highlights will be the K-9 Thrill Show, which starts at 8 p.m. Attendees will get insight into why the unit’s K-9 teams each average about 100 calls a year for service, requests that range from helping to find a lost child to clearing a building after a bomb threat.
Lt. Harry McKinney, who heads the K-9 unit, said people are always surprised at how well-behaved the dogs are, compared with the service dogs of years ago. “I attribute that to the advancement of the training the unit has received,” he said.
Since 9-11, the demand for dogs has increased with heightened security needs, and they have also become a more versatile tool: finding people, drugs, and explosives as well as interacting with the public, sometimes in a therapeutic role, said McKinney.
“The ability to recognize the difference between a social situation and criminal apprehension requires a sophisticated level of training and dedication from both the handler and the K-9,” McKinney explained. He added that although the unit’s dogs enjoy meeting the public, citizens should never approach one without first receiving permission from the handler.
Chester County Sheriff Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh said she looks forward to Cruise Night, which helps to educate the community about the vital role the K-9 Unit fills in her office.
“This is an outstanding family event. The great collection of cars is appreciated and enjoyed by everyone,” said Welsh. “It is really exciting to end the night with this spectacular K-9 thrill show. Cars, lights, sirens, dogs: It is a real crowd-pleaser!”
Media coverage is welcome. Farrell Stadium is located at 855 South New Street in West Chester.