Cruisin Frankfort

Larry Schaefer and his son, Matthew, browse during Cruisin Frankfort, on Thursdays through Aug. 25. (Warren Skalski/ Photo for the Chicago Tribune / May 19, 2011)

Even though he spends his days as a service adviser for an auto dealer, Chicagoan Jerry Marichal's favorite summer pastime is checking out the area's many cruise nights. Unlike indoor car shows, where dealers peddle their wares, cruise nights are casual gatherings, where car enthusiasts schmooze with like-minded folks.

Some cruise-night fans bring their cars to show off. Others browse the cars on display. Marichal does either, depending on the show. At one show, he chats with Chevy Nova owners about the 1963 model he is rebuilding in his garage. At another, he takes pictures of cars he admires.

"Right now, there are about 2,200 pictures in my iPad," he said. "I'm an all-car kind of guy. I like them all.

"It's a family thing for us," said Marichal. "We took our kids and, now that they're grown, we take our grandkids. The 6-year-old and 8-year-old girls are the biggest fans. Their favorites: any cars that are red."

Some cruise nights welcome cars and trucks of any vintage or make, while others spotlight certain vehicles. Mount Prospect has a Corvette night, a Ford night and more. Westmont has a squad-car night and a firetruck night.

Most cruise nights are free for attendees, but charge those who show their cars. "Most are charity events, so the money goes to good causes," Marichal said. The shows' sponsors are municipalities, chambers of commerce, car clubs or restaurants.

To join Marichal and other cruise-night fans, wear walking shoes — some of these events cover entire downtowns. Bring some cash to buy food and novelties from street vendors. If you bring a lawn chair to just sit and gaze at a restored 1965 Ford Mustang, you will not be alone.

The following towns also will be hosting cruise nights this summer:

Algonquin: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. June 14, July 12 and Aug. 9, Randall Road and Harnish Drive;

Barrington: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. June 2, July 7, Aug. 4 and Sept. 1, Station and Cook streets;

Bartlett: 6 to 9 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 25, Illinois Highway 59 and Stearns Road;

Batavia: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 19, 645 S. River St.;

Berwyn: 6 to 9 p.m. June 7 and 21, July 5 and 19 and Aug. 16 and 30, Windsor and Grove avenues;

Cary: 6 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sept. 7, Main Street and Northwest Highway;

Chicago: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 26, California Avenue and Division Street;

Chicago Ridge: 6 to 9 p.m. on alternating Tuesdays beginning Tuesday, 6401 W. 95th St.; 708-857-8300

Downers Grove: 6 to 9 p.m. Fridays through Sept. 2, Main and Curtiss streets; down

Elmhurst 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays, Addison Avenue and First Street;

Forest Park: 6 to 9 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month beginning June 14, Madison Street and Thomas Avenue; email