Valdosta Daily Times

April 7, 2013

Blast from the past: Antique cars line streets of Lakeland

Caitlin Barker
The Valdosta Daily Times

LAKELAND — The Milltown Motorcade graced Main Street in Lakeland Saturday, featuring an assortment of antique cars dating back as early as the 1920’s  through the 1960’s and 70’s.

Every year in April, Lakeland hosts the motorcade, allowing owners of vintage vehicles to show off some of their most prized possessions.

“We have a wide selection of cars this year. It's been a real success. The same people keep coming back every year,” said John H. "Sandy" Sanders with the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce.

Residents and visitors were able to view various types of old fashioned automobiles, from the Model T Ford to the Packard, and nothing was short of spectacular.

David Hutchenson was delighted to participate in this year's motorcade, as he stood next to and admired Rob Evans’ 1948 Packard Custom Eight Club Coupe.

“A lot of these guys are in the car club,” Hutchenson said. “If your car is older than 1950, you can park it on the street. If not, you park it in the parking lot.”

Logan H. Birdsong also made an appearance at the motorcade, alongside his gorgeous 1937 red Jaguar.

“I’ve been coming here for eleven years. I’ve been in 94 shows and have 104 awards,” Birdsong said.

Birdsong’s astonishing Jag has been featured in December’s edition of Hot VW’s magazine and has also inspired him to begin his own car show, back in 2006.

“Last year, I had 149 vehicles — this year I’m shooting for 200,” Birdsong said.

The 7th Annual “Super Cruise-In” car show will be held Saturday, May 18, at

 the Valdosta Mall. Cars from the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s will be shown, free vehicle inspections will be given, and the event is open to all classic cars and trucks.

Among the many main attractions of Saturday's motorcade, vendors, shops and restaurants were also open for business, promoting “Motorcade Lunch Specials” and giving away free ice cream.

John Patten of “Patten’s Peanuts” attended the motorcade, alongside girlfriend Kristin Finney, serving up hot and savory boiled peanuts for $2 a cup.

“I come every year. We sell Patten’s Peanuts every summer,” Patten said. “Used to be just the murals but now it’s a motorcade. Cars also come up over Labor Day weekend for the Fall Frolic. This is the Spring version.”

Finney got the opportunity to experience her first Milltown Motorcade this weekend and spent the day in amazement.

“This is awesome,” Finney said. “I had no idea this was such a huge event.”

Judy Hart and Sandy Willis of the Withlacoochee Quilting Guild from Valdosta participated in the event, bringing an array of quilts for motorcade guests to admire.

“We came for awareness. The guild has been around for 40 years,” Hart said. “The quilts are either hand made by members or are family heirlooms.”

A beautiful opportunity quilt, machine pieced by guild members and machine quilted by Pam Whiddon, was set on display and will be given away in a drawing on November 11. The guild meets the second Monday night of every month at Grace Bible Church on Park Avenue and encourages guests to participate.

“We are always looking for new members,” Willis said.

As residents from all over South Georgia and parts of North Florida crowded Main Street to enjoy the amenities of the event, they also took a moment to admire Lakeland’s iconic murals painted on every building.

The murals began back in 2002, when lifelong Lakeland resident, Nell Roquemore, had the idea to bring back some of the town's history.

“I just love this town, I have always been here,” Roquemore said. “My father was the mayor in 1925 when the town changed its name to Lakeland. He then was representative and later state senator.”

Milltown was the original name of the town of Lakeland before it changed in 1925. Although Nell grew up in Lakeland, she wanted to bring back the familiar faces of Milltown to the community.

Nell sought out an artist from South Carolina, Ralph H. Waldrop, in 1998 to paint a mural depicting a scene of Milltown Councilmen gathering for a historical meeting. Each figure painted on the buildings represents an important part of Lakeland’s history. Nell’s father, former Mayor of Lakeland, can be seen on the building further down from the councilmen.

“The first mural in town was the 1925 name change,” Roquemore said. “We started celebrating the murals in 2000, the cars came a couple years later.”

What began as one mural has now evolved into 39, each representing a figure that impacted the community. Thanks to Roquemore, these historic individuals will always be remembered.

“I knew them, most of them. Most of my family is on the walls,” Roquemore said. “I am the fifth generation who has lived all my life here.”

Sandy Sanders has also admired Nell’s work and enthusiasm in restoring the historic value of Lakeland.  

“This being my hometown, it is good to share the history with our visitors,” Sanders said. “We don’t have empty buildings, we’re growing, we’re adding. Visitors enjoy a small town.”

The Milltown Motorcade ended with a parade of the vintage vehicles. The cars then proceeded to drive into Roquemore Park and  visitors spent the remainder of the evening listening to the sweet sounds of the Sweetwater Creek Bluegrass Band.

For more information about the Milltown Motorcade and its murals, please visit