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Second Saturdays liven up downtown Suffolk

The kickoff for Second Saturdays in downtown Suffolk had families going from one of seven different destinations to the next for free activities and cheap-but-fun offerings.

More than 100 people were counted Saturday morning at Morgan Memorial Library as drivers revved their engines in the Pedal to the Metal: Cars and More show. There were 14 registered vehicles — from classics to more recent favorites — parked for posterity in the hot sun alongside other unique modes of transportation, Suffolk Public Library local history and genealogy coordinator LaSandra Adams said.

Parents shopped at vendors’ tents while their children played Nintendo Wii at the Library2Go mobile or sat for story time.

“It gives families the opportunity to do something on the weekend instead of just being cooped up in the house all day long, and it’s free,” said Brandon Hamlin, who was at Morgan Memorial with his wife Brittany, their children Nathan, 6, and Ellieahna, 4, and his 1973 Chevrolet Nova in the show.

Votes were cast for the show’s best entries, and a trio of Chevys came out on top. According to Adams, Buddy Butler won first place with a 1970 Chevy Chevelle, Charles Ricks took second in his 1955 Chevy Belair and Kenny Hobbs took third place with his 1972 Chevy SS Nova.

But there wasn’t any nail-biting competition in the parking lot, just friendly conversation while trying to stay cool in the heat. Kenny Hydock, a professional Santa Claus, did his best to bring Christmas in July by wearing red overalls, shoes and his Santa hat. He gave out candy canes beside his festively red Hummer fashioned with reindeer graphics.

“It’s too hot for the full suit,” Hydock laughed.

Andrew Hund pedaled around on a staggering 1883 Columbia Expert Ordinary High-Wheel bicycle that he bought five years ago from the widow of an avid collector. Hund, who owns the Re-Cycle Factory in Norfolk, said it’s difficult to even get off the antique in one piece, but it’s still precious to him.

“I couldn’t say no to it,” he said “I’m hoping to one day open a museum for bicycles. It’s going to happen, just not overnight.”

Over at the Seaboard Station Railroad Museum on Main Street, children wore themselves out in big bounce houses with DJ music. Chesapeake resident Ike Hardy brought his kids Dominick, 7, and Anastasia, 9, along with his friend’s son, Ralph Ashburn, 5. Hardy said the four of them have just been driving around, following a map of the Saturday activities and learning more about Suffolk along the way.

“I got to learn some stuff too,” he said, like when they were at the Farmer’s Market that morning at the Suffolk Visitor Center and he browsed some of the history on display.

The Suffolk Art League held an open members’ show at the gallery on Bosley Avenue, and while those artists showed their talents, younger ones were cutting loose at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts on West Finney Avenue.

Steel drummer Ju Ju kept beating to the rhythm of his stereo music as water cascaded from the fountain in its own hum under the sun. Children jumped rope or grabbed their favorite colors in sidewalk chalk for the center’s numerous walkways.

“We’re hoping they’ll just decorate the whole area,” said program coordinator Kimberly Atkinson.

Wayne Gwaltney’s son Daniel, 4, ran around with his jump rope while his daughter Katy, 11, meticulously worked on her chalk design. She hunched on the stone walkway and used bright green and pink to recreate a battle from one of her favorite video games, the cartoonish and colorful “Splatoon 2.”

“She’s really taken up art,” Gwaltney said about Katy. “She’s getting really good at it.”

The finale Saturday evening had live music, beer and the Get Stuffed Food Truck at Brick and Mortar Brewing Company, but the artistically inclined had more to do that afternoon at the OnePast7 art studio.

Artists like Bob Scholes worked on their latest pieces in the studio while friends enjoyed snacks and spirits. Classical music like Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Für Elise” rang from an electric keyboard before shifting to other classic tracks, like the “Jurassic Park” theme.

The musician was 11-year-old Cain Hyde, who’s been playing the piano and keyboard for the last four years. He takes lessons during the school year and like to play all kinds of music, whether he found them in a book or a video game.

“I like playing the songs that I love,” Cain said.

In the Obici-Oderzo fountain park beside the courthouse, children chased bubbles, painted Suffolk Rocks or got their own faces painted while a guitarist strummed the chorus of “Brown Eyed Girl.” Kristin Bourcier of the SPARC Initiative got to work on the first stage of renovations for fountain.

OnePast7 and Plaid Turnip owner Ed Beardsley originally spearheaded the monthly event to promote the artists at the OnePast7 studio. It’s since grown into a much larger idea with plans to grow even more in the months ahead. He said all they have to do is get everyone used to the idea that Second Saturdays in downtown Suffolk should be exciting.

“My goal is that it promotes everything that we have to offer as a whole downtown,” he said.