While Somernites Cruise was a little sparse this month compared to normal, with only 763 cars in attendance, it was still a good day for the cruise.

“We were actually low compared to normal,” said Jim Harris, Somernites Cruise management team member. “We attribute that primarily to weather, where they were giving a severe weather forecast in the north, south and west.”

Harris added that throughout Saturday, several participants told team members they thought about turning around and going home because of running into bad weather on the way.

“We still had a good day though,” said Harris.

Those attending the cruise could see several interesting people and cars who were in attendance.

Making their debut was Bill and Georgia Branam, who acted as “Andy” and “Aunt Bee” from the Andy Griffith Show which aired from 1960 to 1968. Several times throughout the day, Branam could be seen involved in a car chase through town in the cruiser with the General Lee. The cruiser is autographed by Don Knotts and the original cast of the show, and the Branams have met everyone who was on the show except Ron Howard.

“We’ve enjoyed today,” said Bill Branam, who said they had been wanting to come to Somernites for the last year or so, but hadn’t made it.

He explained that there is a club, which started five years ago where they live in Jellico, Tenn., that does re-enactments of shows with original cast. Club members attend such events as parades and class reunions, usually getting paid for attending.

The Branams said they have played many characters over the years. Georgia Branam said she started out playing Helen, but eventually went on to win an Aunt Bee look-alike contest held at Opryland where they met Don Knotts. Now, Georgia plays “Aunt Bee” the majority of the time.

“They absolutely had a blast. The crowd enjoyed listening to them,” said Harris, adding that the Branams plan to come back to the cruise.

Cruise attendees could also see the National Guard sponsored Nascar that is driven by Greg Biffle.

Also in attendance for the first time was Sharon Reece, Pulaski Elementary School principal who retired after this past school year, who was able to bring a car of her own to the show — a 1964 Corvette.

At Reece’s retirement party, her husband, Landis, surprised her by presenting her with the car, which had been restored. Reece had owned the car for many years, but it had been in the garage for around 20 years and needed to be restored.

However, Harris said, the hottest topic of the day was what’s still to come.

“Next month definitely has the potential to be the biggest cruise yet (because of) the Power Cruise,” said Harris.

Somernites intends to coordinate a huge rolling caravan of classics, streetrods and musclecars that will converge on Somerset from three different directions at the same time on Saturday, July 22. Cars will be rolling in from the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati area, Bowling Green/North Tennessee and Knoxville, Tenn.

When the cars arrive in Somerset, the Cruise Team will host a free Power Cruise Lunch for participants.

Harris said the idea to have the Power Cruise came from the Hot Rod Power Tour.

“We wanted to do something to make it fun for participants,” said Harris.

Coming up on July 1, there will be a fundraiser for Roy “Pepper” Pulley, a Somernites Cruise management team member, to benefit the scholarship fund recently started in his honor. The fundraiser is hosted by Lynn’s Lunchbox and several other local businesses and will be held on S. Maple Street in the early afternoon, with several local officials on hand for the contest.

The next Somernites Cruise will be held July 22.

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