Downtown comes alive with revival of cars, camaraderie


After taking six laps around the downtown Seymour streets Saturday night, Larry Wilson decided it was time to see Scoop the Loop from a different angle.

He and Seymour High School Class of 1978 classmate Kevin Larrison placed chairs in front of Larrison’s Diner at the corner of Chestnut and Tipton streets to sit back and watch all of the cars go by.

Whether he was driving around in his 2012 Cadillac limousine decked out like a presidential vehicle or just watching others drive by, it took the Seymour native back to the late 1970s when scooping the loop was the thing to do on Friday and Saturday nights.

“It’s very nostalgic for people like me that graduated from Seymour High School but haven’t lived here in 35 years,” said Wilson, who now lives in Indianapolis.

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This was his second year being at Scoop the Loop since it was revived five years ago.

“It’s like a mini class reunion,” Wilson said. “You drive up and down the street and hear people yelling your name and see people you haven’t seen for a long time that maybe don’t come to the class reunions, but they are here tonight. It’s great.”

This year, the area of One Chamber Square in the middle of downtown Seymour was as full as the nearby streets. Local musicians played throughout the four-hour event, and members of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 108 and their families sold Big Red and A&W Root Beer floats as a fundraiser for its Cops and Kids program.

Several downtown restaurants also were open later than usual to take advantage of the hundreds of people filling the streets.

Larrison said this was the third year for his family’s diner to extend its hours for Scoop the Loop.

“It would be crazy not to take advantage of it,” Larrison said. “We were asked by several others, and we’ve all participated in a lot of the same things and said, ‘We’re in for it. We’ll stay open.’ It helps to draw people who want to park and come in and eat.”

When his father ran the diner, Larrison said it was open in the evenings. But nowadays, it typically closes in mid-afternoon.

“There’s not enough people downtown except for an event like this, and then it really picks up. We’ve been very busy in there today,” he said. “If you probably go up and down the highway and ask some of the businesses, they are pretty happy this is going on because I’m sure all the way down the highway, they are busy with this many people.”

Wilson said he had a good time driving the limousine around Seymour. The car was a popular attraction with its red and blue lights in the grill, presidential seals on the front doors and American flags on the front of the car.

“It’s the first time I’ve had that here, and a lot of people were yelling, ‘Kevin Larrison for president,'” Wilson said.

When he decided to park the car and sit in front of the diner, Wilson had a chance to reflect on the old days of scooping the loop.

“There were not as many cars as what’s here tonight,” he said. “The funny thing is, the cars weren’t near as nice. We were all driving hand-me-downs from mom and dad. You had people out here in station wagons with the wood on the sides and all that kind of stuff. Now, everybody is driving cars that they wish they could have had then.”

One thing that’s similar is the atmosphere, Wilson said.

“You see people you know, you recognize, and you yell at them, wave at them, wave hello. Sometimes, maybe you hadn’t seen people for a couple of weeks, and all of a sudden, here they are,” he said. “The camaraderie is the same.”

But a few things are different now, he said.

“The cars are a lot nicer, and we’re all a little grayer and a little fatter,” he said, smiling.

“It brings back good memories,” he said. “Seymour was a great place to grow up, and I’m very blessed to have lived here during my formative years.”

Larrison said he remembers driving his green Gremlin X while scooping the loop back in the day with Wilson.

“We had a blast,” Larrison said. “This was the place to come because it was just laid out right. This had two big, long streets.”

He recalled a few differences in the weekly tradition compared to today.

“A lot of us, instead of driving, if you didn’t have much money, we would pull in somewhere, and everybody had their section,” he said. “It’s like you had your area where you pulled in.”

There also were different routes — an abbreviated loop and a big loop.

“Your cars would overheat back then, and so you’d have to run out to the country for a while,” Larrison said. “You’d go out there to cool your jets off and come back into town.”

Larrison said scooping the loop ended several decades ago because it began to cause traffic issues. But he’s glad to see it made a comeback, and he expects it to continue.

“It’s once in the summer, and it’s done,” he said. “It just gets people out and about.”

Tammy Browning and Sheila Wheeler, who have been best friends for 38 years, work at Larrison’s Diner and were outside the restaurant with Larrison and Wilson.

After getting off work and admiring the cars going by for a while, they wanted to get involved in the Scoop the Loop experience.

“We don’t want to drive. We want to ride, but nobody will pick us up,” Browning said.

They tried flagging down several passing vehicles with no luck. Finally, someone let them jump in the back of a truck.

“We used to do this back in the day,” Wheeler said.

Now, though, they said a lot more people show up.

“I just like seeing everybody out having a good time — good, clean fun,” Wheeler said. “It gets your heart pumping and racing. It’s great. It’s nice to see everybody get together and do something fun.”

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