the Spring National Meet drew near, registrations poured into Meet
Registrar (and Board Vice President) Noel Hastalis. Club Treasurer,
Gloria Moon had told me that "this
is going to be a big meet" and
was she ever right. It exceeded everyone’s
Club members quickly gobbled up the block of 60
reserved rooms at the Hershey Marriott Springhill Suites ideally
located directly across from the AACA Museum.
Beautiful weather greeted the record crowd as they arrived in Hershey; "the
sweetest place on earth" Wednesday
afternoon, May 17th. They were greeted by Hank and Allison Hallowell
in the lobby of the host hotel. Allison had assembled gift bags for
each participant filled with snacks for the days ahead. Hank and Ali
had assembled pocket folders which included places to visit, agendas,
an explanation of the origin of the town, the Milton Hershey School
and surrounding area, and an all important list of auto parts stores
night the group was treated to delicious pot roast dinner in the
upper rotunda complete with all the trimmings, and desert. Hank
Hallowell provided a preview of the week ahead.
the group met in the Lower Rotunda of the Museum for a full tour of
the 70,000 square foot facility and an additional behind the scenes
tour of the Museum’s
100+ car collection and service bays. The Museum’s
curator joined the group and explained the how the volunteers are
recruited and the role they play in the operation of the facility.
those that had preordered lunch enjoyed either a roast beef or turkey
lunch before traveling 45 minutes to the private Cal High collection
in Lancaster County.
High collection consists of an outstanding group of prewar classics
restored to the highest levels. Literally almost every major classic
was represented. Mr. High personally lead the group through the
building providing an explanation of each car.
night, following dinner on your own, the Board of Directors hosted a
business meeting in the Museum’s
meeting room (moved from the hotel due to the size of the group).
dawned clear with continued perfect weather. The group carefully
lined up for a drive through some of the most beautiful scenery that
the region has to offer. A 45-minute
Lebanon Valley farm country and the heart of Pennsylvania’s
Dutchland Region ensued with views of the
Appalachian Mountain chain
to the north and Mount Gretna to the south.
the chain of 40+ vehicles together, we arrived at Mike Gardner’s
restoration shop. The group toured the facility and viewed a variety
of projects in various stages. Gardners can do anything that requires
repair. Mike and his assistant Jarred started a 1910 Otto that hadn’t
run in 40 years. The antique ran beautifully and idled smoothly for
the group. Mike made the valves and did a complete valve job on the
car for the AACA Museum.
your own", the
group had a variety of options including a visit to “Hershey’s
Chocolate World,” the nearby manufacturers outlet center, or a
series of smaller collections - all at your own pace and within
minutes of the host hotel.
5:30 the Museum opened its doors and included the 300 Club in the opening
of its 20th Anniversary Exhibit. This is an event that occurs twice a
year as the Museum changes out its contents in order to keep the
experience fresh. It was a coincidence that it fell during the Meet.
Saturday morning beginning at sunrise, cars assembled at the “detail
of the museum for a car wash and prep for the show ahead.
short order, cars assembled by “letter”
It was an impressive display of a large number of
Chrysler 300 Letter Series cars assembled in one location. Every
letter car was represented on the field. For me, it was greatest
number I had ever seen grouped together. I’ve
never seen a dozen Gs in one place.
too, were the other older Mopars which joined the lettercars on the
field: these included a custom built Challenger convertible, ‘61
New Yorker, ‘79
300 among others.
thanks to Alex Ruozzi of the RB Collection for giving up his Saturday
and bringing their E convertible so that we had each letter on the
night the awards banquet followed and was well attended.
the meet closed Sunday and goodbyes were shared the group was treated
to a “Getaway”
prior to getting off and returning to their respective states...a
good time was had by all.
want to express my thanks for everyone’s
patience and understanding during the meet. This was huge turnout, a
very large number of cars and folks, and required some extra
planning. I want to personally thank everyone for the kind messages
You Notes” I
have received. It means a great deal.
thanks to special people: the Museum staff, especially our curator
Stan Sipko, the front desk staff, docents and guides. Thanks to our
Vice President and registrar Noel Hastalis who was literally
inundated at some points, Rob Kern who kept me focused on tasks,
Gloria Moon who wisely counseled me, and John Begian who was there
when I needed him. Special thanks also goes to Charlie Valentine who
was the first person to volunteer to help me, PJ Ehmann who attended
the meet to help me, and my wife Allison, without whom I couldn’t
have gotten any of this pulled together...and to folks whose
properties we descended upon: Mike Gardener, Cal High, the Millers,
and my friends Scott, Tim, Paul and Jim who helped anchor my garages
it came together for a big meet, with fun, food, and fellowship for
Photo credits: Carl Bilter, Keith Boonstra, Bill Elder, Jamie Hyde, Ray Jones,
Mick Kreszock, Noel Hastalis, David Larsen, Bob Merritt, Jeff Miklas,
Gloria Moon, Tony Rinaldi, Caroll Ripley, Stan Sipko,
Don Verity, Don Warnaar and Joe Williams.
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