Nostalgia Days Turns 30

Over the summer of 2016, I had an internship at a community guide magazine in my hometown. This is one of the first articles I wrote for the guide about a local festival held near my hometown.

As seen in the June issue of ZB Guide (below).

nostalgia day

To motor heads, grease monkeys and car enthusiasts, nothing sounds better than 400 antique and custom car engines revving as they cruise down Sheridan Road.

“You see some of the most beautiful machines come to life. You hear the roaring of the engines, you see the beautiful paint that reflects off the sunlight, you see the pride that’s on the faces of the drivers when people are like ‘Wow, that’s a cool car!’” says Sonolito Bronson, economic development coordinator for the city of Zion.

Even if one’s knowledge in four, six or eight cylinder vehicles is lacking, sipping on an ice-cold beverage and reminiscing about the “good ol’ days” is enough to attract anyone to the 30th Annual Nostalgia Days in Zion. Nostalgia Days is a two-day, family-friendly celebration of the past that includes food, local vendors, an outdoor movie, a car show and the Sheridan Road Cruize, a procession of the cars participating in the show.

The idea for such a celebration came in 1987 from the former Zion Business Association, who wanted to combine the annual Gypsy Days sidewalk sale and an antique car show with an emphasis on sentiment. After six weeks of planning, the first Nostalgia Days was born. In 2013, it was announced that the show would be cancelled, but former mayor Lane Harrison decided the city would absorb the planning and costs associated with the event.

Eighty cars were shown at the first Nostalgia Days. In the past two years, numbers have averaged between 300 and 400 cars, bringing as many as 15000 spectators to Nostalgia Days, says Bronson. Some people travel from as far as Mississippi, Tennessee and Florida to show their antique and custom cars, which economically and socially benefits the local community by promoting tourism and reconnecting old friends and family members. The celebration also gives the Zion-Benton area another tradition to be proud of.

“It really gives us an opportunity to see our communities in action – Zion, Beach Park, Winthrop Harbor and parts of Wadsworth – and it really gives us a sense of pride to see that we can do something really cool like this,” says Bronson.

This year, the Nostalgia Days Commission has decided to hire a company to run the car show because the current commission lacks the knowledge necessary to keep the show in “top-notch” shape, says Bronson. BGV Motorsports, based out of Mundelein, has been serving car show needs of Chicagoland since 2010 and will run this year’s car show.

“I think what BGV Motorsports will bring to the table is a great group of automotive enthusiasts from around Chicagoland and southern Wisconsin that travel with us and support us diligently at all of our events,” says Amy Daum, marketing director for BGV Motorsports. “We want to expose our audiences to the great city of Zion and all of its amenities.”

Along with every event the company puts on, BGV Motorsports raises money for charity and Nostalgia Days is no different. It is not official which charity will be sponsored by this year’s celebration, but Daum says the chosen charity will be familiar to the Zion-Benton community.

Another change to this year’s event is the cancellation of the usual carnival due to scheduling conflicts, but Bronson promises that the event is never dull. One year, a woman was looking for a specific car because it was the car that she had her first date in. After walking the four blocks to the car class, the car was nowhere to be found.

“We see that the car is not there and she says ‘Well, heck, I could’ve kissed someone in the back of this car, I don’t know!’ There are a lot of nostalgic moments,” says Bronson.

Nostalgia Days will be held rain or shine on June 17-18 on Sheridan Road in Zion between 31st and 25th Streets. To find out more information, updates and a schedule of events, head to www.nostalgiadays.com.

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