Club tries to shake off hearse’s eerie image
By Ashley McLeod, Staff Writer
Jul 3, 2013, 17:23
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Steven and Christine Shultz, shown far left, of Hopewell, started their own hearse enthusiast club, the Virginia Casket Cruisers.
HOPEWELL — There’s one type of car that will always seem to give people goose bumps. But for some Hopewell residents, a hearse will do the exact opposite.
Christine Shultz, along with husband Steven, have always loved Halloween, and also have a love for classic cars. These two things came together when the couple decided to buy a hearse.
“We combined the two things we loved, bought a hearse, and that’s how it all got started,” Christine Shultz said.
They took their hearse to car shows in the area, but there was never any other hearse at any show they attended. There was never much attention brought to the hearse at the car shows. According to Shultz, it was always Mustangs or other fancy cars winning the awards, and never the hearse. So in 2010, they came up with an idea.
“At that point, we decided to have our own hearse car show, that was exclusive, and that somebody at that show was going to win and it was going to be a hearse,” Shultz said.
This is what gave them the idea to start their own club, which they did, the Virginia Casket Cruisers.
“We decided to go find these people ourselves, approach them and find out if they would be interested in joining us,” Shultz said.
Based out of Hopewell, where the couple lives, the Casket Cruisers are a group of hearse owners that get together for the commonality of owning a hearse.
“We’re here to celebrate hearses, how beautiful they are, and how fun we can be,” Shultz said.
Hearses are usually associated with funerals, for carrying coffins to their final resting places. This gives them immediate negative associations, such as death. Shultz says that this is one idea about hearses that the club hopes to shake.
“I guess society has put a stigma on them, but I think that society is changing a little bit because more and more people are accepting of them and looking at it in a different way,” Shultz said. “We really aren’t that scary.”
The members of the Casket Cruisers range in occupations, including DJs, security guards and construction workers. Shultz works in a daycare, while husband Steven does servicing on air conditioning units.
Christine Shultz says that the club gets a variety of responses from people who see them. Some people are excited and interested, and others are scared.
“We get people who won’t look at us at all, and just run away,” Shultz said. “But we’re normal people; we just like to do things in a different way.”
The club officially began by holding a car show, the Creepy Car Show, in 2011. At the time, the group was in the beginning stages of forming, and Shultz says there were about five hearses in attendance. The show also included replicas of cars from the show “The Munsters.”
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS Several hearses are shown at a show.
The Casket Cruisers, which has about 15 members, are also involved in the community in other ways. Last Halloween, the club set up their hearses into a creepy trail along the road and passed out 50 pounds of candy to children and adults. The club has also shown off their cars at King’s Dominion, ridden in the Christmas parade, and participated in a zombie walk.
On July 16, the club is holding another event in the community, a vampire-themed hearse show and blood drive. The event will feature live music, food from Another Bite BBQ, raffles, as well as a live casket ride. The Virginia Blood Services will be in attendance as well taking blood donations.
“I thought blood drive would be awesome especially with the vampire theme,” Shultz said. “I want it to be fun, but I always want a reason behind it, to help out and give the money to something good.”
Shultz hopes that the event, along with helping out with blood donations, will get awareness out to the community about the group, and the cars. Hearses, which began as horse drawn carriages, are not made in factories like other cars. They are pieced together, and everyone is different from the next. According to Shultz, every hearse is unique.
“We wanted people to see how unique and different they were, and how much art and passion is put into making them,” Shultz said. “We want to raise attention and money, and do good things in our own creepy kind of way.”
The blood drive will take place from 2 to 6 p.m. July 16 at the Advanced Auto Parts store in Hopewell, located at 3609 Oaklawn Blvd. Also supporting the event will be the Central Virginia Haunters and the Red Vein Army.