Sunday was a perfect day for a cruise-in, and Point Gratiot was the perfect venue. The Lake Shore Street Rod Association's annual Harbor Cruise attracted more than 500 cars this year.
Proceeds from the event are donated to charities in the area. This year donations from the event will benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Northern Chautauqua County and the Chautauqua County Veterans Van.
Tom Kwiatkowski, one of the organizers who was found enjoying an empanada from Spanish Food, explained the event has become one of the premier events of its kind in Western New York.
OBSERVER Photos by Diane ?Chodan
Left: A 1957 Chevy Bel Air Station Wagon was one of the unique cars that cruised in to Point Gratiot on Sunday for the Lake Shore Street Rod Association's annual Harbor Cruise. Right:The license plate (MY KRUZR) says it all.
"We always hold it the weekend after the fourth of July and it has become more well-known. We attract people from Western New York. In addition, we have people coming from other areas - Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Canada."
This year, the Lake Shore Street Rod Association is remembering Dick Carmen who passed away on June 30.
"He was a co-founder and past president," said Kwiatkowski
Many of those cruising in brought tents to provide shade near their cars and a comfortable place to sit.
A contingent of about 15 cruise-in participants from Erie, Pa. sat together under a large shade tent near their cars, talking, joking, and enjoying their day.
Fred Smith, when asked why he comes to this event, said, "It's a ball. We all have a good time here."
He remembered that this cruise-in was once held at the Clarion Hotel in Dunkirk. His wife Eileen was able to correct him about the number of years they have been attending. According to Eileen they have been participating for about 10 years.
"She remembers the dates of things better than I do,"Fred explained while Eileen nodded and smiled.
Richard Wallen, of Fredonia, sat near a 1934 Ford Coupe that his dad, David, had restored. He said that it was quite an effort because, "There aren't instructions for these cars and you have to have small hands to make the adjustments."
Next to the Ford was a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Station Wagon. Wallen explained about that car as well. He said belonged to Michael Gunther of Fredonia and was an unusual car.
"It's original and was found in Nevada. It is in great shape," he said.
John Giardano, whose 1923 Ford T Bucket Replica and casket holding "Chucky" is a fixture at local car shows, was promoting a Don't Drink and Drive message. Near Chucky was a dish with lollipops for the children. Nearby, Dan Virgo (a.k.a) Santini had a motorcycle and a similarly ghoulish display.
In addition to viewing the cars, the crowd enjoyed music provided by Sammy Slicker and DJ Mustang Bob. A number of vendors were present including Spanish Food, West Main Diner, Rookies, and Tony's Waffles. A chicken barbecue was provided by Mike Porpiglia. There were awarded door prizes throughout the day.
Kenny Doepp, another organizer of the event, expressed his gratitude to those who contribute to its success.
"Thanks to all the vendors, the mayor, the street and parks department (Tony Gugino and his crew) who let us hold the event here, everyone who donated, and everyone who attended. This was a great day," he said.
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