Jeep culture rolls into PCB

Daniel Rhodes shifted gears in his 2002 Jeep Wrangler, pressing the vehicle through a mound of rocks and large cement blocks. He tackled the mound of tires with a little more ease, though the Jeep leaned 06precariously sideways while tumbling over the tires.

Rhodes was among Jeepers putting their pedals to the metal and showcasing their Jeeps’ torque and skills while trying to conquer the obstacle course at the third annual Jeep Beach Jam at Frank Brown Park on Thursday.

“It was a little difficult,” said Rhodes, one of thousands of Jeepers who dropped their tops and doors to venture out to this year’s Jeep Beach Jam.

The event, in its third year, was created to bring Jeep lovers to the area to expose them to Panama City Beach’s beautiful beaches, said Mark Hess, executive producer.

“Jeepers love to drive around and show off their Jeeps to the other Jeepers,” he said.

About 6,000 people and 2,000 Jeeps were registered for this year’s event.

The Jeep Beach Jam falls right in line with Panama City Beach’s move to make the area a year-round destination, said Catie Feeney, Visit Panama City Beach public relations manager.

“Jeep Beach Jam is expecting to bring in over 2,000 jeeps from 14 different states, which is great for the destination,” she said. “Because this event has activities spanning an entire week, it is bringing the visitors in for a longer period of time.”

The obstacle course was Rhodes’ first off-road experience. He said his Jeep, which he’s had for a few months now, is a project — along with most other Jeeps — as owners enhance their vehicles with bigger tires, suspension, custom paint and more. In fact, Rhodes said he still has to add more features to his “project.”

“It’s got to be lifted,” he said. “I have to get bigger tires. It’s a never-ending project.”

Rhodes, a self-titled “country boy” from Alabama, said he saw people in the state with big Jeeps and decided to join the culture.

The obstacle course and the Jeep parade are some of the event’s biggest hits, said Andrea Hess, marketing coordinator. For the first time, this year’s parade will be held on the beach’s sands, from 6-8 p.m. Saturday.

“This is a family-friendly event,” she said. “You can put an entire family in the Jeep. People bring their dogs.”

The Galbreath family from Peakin, Ind., came out for the excursions and other activities offered at the Jeep Beach Jam. Four-year-old Emery Galbreath said she likes to ride in Jeeps and enjoyed the excursion. She was accompanied by her mother, Morgan; her father, Trent; and 8-month-old brother Ean.

“We look forward to the excursions and the Vendor Village, so we can see what we can find,” Trent Galbreath said. “We are doing the parade Saturday.”

Clete and Heather King of Tallahassee have turned out for the event since the beginning. The couple said they usually attend a Jeep event in Daytona, but the Jeep Beach Jam is closer and they enjoy it more.

Andrea Hess said she and organizers would like to thank Panama City Beach officials for working with organizer to keep the event rolling.

Source:  Panama City News Herald


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