When Gerry Cook attended Waukegan High School in the middle 1960s, he went scooping down Sheridan Road on Fridays and Saturday nights with his buddies in their cars.
“That was our social network,” Cook said.
Cook went off to college; the scoop went out of favor, and kids started going to the mall instead of cruising the streets with their cars, he said.
Now, Waukegan Scoop is back after Cook joined forces with three other former scoopers to get it going again.
Over the years, others have tried to bring back some sort of scoop to Waukegan, which lasted for a while, then ended, but this time Cook thinks Waukegan Scoop has staying power.
“We’ve been doing it four years and last year we had over 20,000 people and over 1,000 cars,” he said.
Waukegan Scoop, running July 7 and 8, will include for the first time,a shuttle bus for the elderly and a carnival for the kids 3-10 p.m. both days. Gospel singers on the Beach will return Saturday from noon-8 p.m.
The festival will also include food, beer tents and live music on two stages.
An open scoop will be held 6-9 p.m. Friday on Genesee Street. “Anybody can drive,” Cook said. “We have 2017 Corvettes, 2016 Mustangs. It’s a combination of everybody on Friday night. We’ll have people directing traffic making sure it’s flowing constantly.”
Cook has driven his 1964 Impala at past scoops, but he’ll have to hitch a ride with someone else — his car is in the shop.
“We drive north and south. We wave at each other as we pass, We high five each other. People stop their cars and change seats. It just brings back a lot of memories,” he said.
A car show will be held 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Anyone can register for $10 per vehicle beginning at 10 a.m. on Water Street and Sheridan Road.
The vehicles will be parked along Waukegan streets in classes of decades from the 1950s to the 2000s. “People can walk up and down the streets and see all these different years of cars,” Cook said. Or they can hop on a shuttle bus at the front of Genesee Theatre.
More than 70 trophies will be awarded at 4 p.m. in different classes, and then the vehicles in the show will take to the streets for a private scoop until 6 p.m. After that, it’s open scoop again.
Last year, the scoop organizers introduced gospel on the beach.
“You can cruise up and down looking at the vehicles and then go down to the beach to listen to the gospel singers,” Cook said. “They’re really good. They bring in a mini-orchestra with them.”
Scoop has “been very successful these past four years. We just pray for good weather,” Cook said. “We want to make sure that the people come down to watch and enjoy the music and the cars and the food. Most of all, we make sure we really treat the car owners like kings and queens. We have about 14 people that go up and down all day Saturday in golf carts, making sure the car people are having a good time.
“I love this city. I was born and raised here. Scoop is an old tradition that goes back into the ’50s. We have people who don’t live here who come all the way for the Scoop. Plus we have a lot of old gear heads like me who bring their cars down.
“Waukegan Scoop, like other festivals in town, shows the people how diverse our town is. It shows the town really does care about the people. We’re providing an atmosphere that’s just fun. It’s just fun.”
Cook, 68, added he hopes when he’s in his 70s, “We’ll have close to 50,000 people.”
Sheryl DeVore is a freelance writer for the News-Sun.
When: 6-10 p.m., July 7; 11 a.m.-10 p.m., July 8; kids carnival, 3-10 p.m. July 7 and 8
Where: Downtown Waukegan
Tickets: Free admission; $10 per vehicle entry Saturday
Information: 847-650-1905; scoopwaukegan.com