Thunderbirds will flock to Carter County at the end of July

John Thompson • Jul 17, 2018 at 8:40 PM

ELIZABETHTON — A large flock of colorful birds are expected to arrive in Carter County in a couple of weeks. It is a migration which has taken place five times in the past, although they don’t come every year.

Ron McCloud, president of the Carter County Car Club and an enthusiastic owner of several of the retro Thunderbirds made by Ford during the production years of 2002 to 2005, has once again sent out the invitation to fellow Thuderbird owners in the U.S. and Canada.

McCloud said this year’s expedition will be in Elizabethton and Carter County from Thursday, July 26, through Saturday, July 28. Naturally, the 64 Thunderbirds will be at the weekly cruise in in downtown Elizabethton, but McCloud has a lot of other Carter County and regional treats for the Thurderbird owners.

He said about 125 people will be in town from about 19 states and the province of Ontario. The owners range from Oklahoma and Texas to New Hampshire and Florida. In keeping with the spread out nature of the group, McCloud is planning events that will take them to three states.

Their long weekend in Carter County will start on Thursday with a diner at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s. The group will then motor to the appropriately named State Line Drive In for a showing of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

“We are inviting other classic car owners to join our 64 Thunderbirds at the theater,” McCloud said. Admission is $10 a car load, so those owners of classic Continentals and Cadillacs may have an advantage.

In keeping with the State Line theme, the Thunderbirds will be heading east on July 27 to Mount Mitchell, North Carolina, the highest point east of the Mississippi River at 6,684 feet. They will dine at the highest restaurant in the East.

The flock will return to Carter County for dinner at Amigo’s Restaurant and then go the Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park for the next to last showing this year of Tennessee’s official outdoor drama, “Liberty!”

On Saturday, the group will head north to another state. After stopping at the Bristol Motor Speedway, they will have lunch in Virginia and visit the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.

The culmination of the weekend will take place at the downtown cruise-in on Saturday. They will gather at Ron’s Cafe for a meal catered by City Market. After the dinner, there will be an auction of Thunderbird items, with the proceeds going to the Imagination Library.

The highlight will be what appears to be a diplomatic briefcase. It was manufactured in honor of a Thunderbird featured in a 2003 James Bond movie “Tomorrow Never Dies.” The case is actually a portable martini-mixing case. McCloud said Ford had planned to make 700 of the briefcases, but a change of plans resulted in only the one case ever being made.

It should be a memorable weekend for Thunderbird owners and their friends.

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