The handwritten sign in the lobby of the Holiday Inn across the street from Silver Springs gave fair warning to any tourists who just happened to pay a visit on January 8-9: "There is a Mustang show here this weekend. Be prepared for early morning activity and loud engines."
Sleeping in was not an option, as 289s, 351s, and 428s cleared their throats prior to crossing the four-lane to Silver Springs. With temperatures expected in the 80s, a record number of Mustangs and Fords-nearly 1,000 in all-converged on Ocala, Florida, for an almost balmy, summer-like weekend, which was a welcome respite from the frost of the past two years. On the other hand, many attendees headed home Sunday afternoon with sun-burned faces and arms.
Silver Springs is an ideal venue for a Mustang and Ford show. With attractions for the kids, shops for the ladies, and glass-bottom boats for everyone, Silver Springs provides something for anyone who tires of inspecting some of the best Mustangs and Fords in the Southeast. According to our host, Rick Schmidt from National Parts Depot, the nice weather brought out 988 cars, a record for the 11-year-old event that provides free registration, including two passes to Silver Springs, for the first 1,000 pre-registered cars.
With gorgeous "winter" weather and nearly 1,000 Mustangs and Fords to drool over, this year's Ford and Mustang Roundup kicked off the Mustang show season in grand style.
Pony Trails: Into The FogThe weatherman said clear, sunny, and warm. He got the sunny and warm part right, but there was nothing clear about our Pony Trails cruise out to Cedar Key. Held on the Friday before the Silver Springs show, the morning barely dawned, thanks to the thick fog. We actually delayed our departure from the National Parts Depot headquarters in hopes the fog would burn off. It didn't.
So we headed out into the fog. A police escort, arranged by NPD, got us up and off I-75 so we could at least begin our journey in one long line. Our route took us through the Florida backwoods and marshes to Cedar Key, a small fishing village on an island in the Gulf of Mexico. Villagers stared in awe as their usually sleepy little town was inundated with Mustangs and Fords. Unfortunately, our planned parking area was closed due to dredging in the marina next door, so our merry band of Pony Trailers was forced to scatter all over town in search of parking. Participants headed for the shops and restaurants right on the Gulf, although the scenery was mostly obscured due to the fog.
After lunch, everyone was on their own for the trip back to National Parts Depot, which opened the doors to its fantastic collection of vintage Fords and other vehicles.