Newtown Borough >> Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, “In every life a little rain must fall.”
Unfortunately for organizers of this year’s Classic & Antique Auto Show the rain decided to fall on this year’s show making for a wet and soggy walk down State Street on Sunday.
But even as occasional rumbles of thunder rolled and lightning flashed across the sky, hearty car enthusiasts with umbrellas in hand made their way down the street checking out this year’s amazing collection of vehicles numbering well north of 100.
While there were some car owners who turned on the wipers early and headed for home, many of the car owners stuck it out, hoping the rain would be short lived. They sought refuge from the raindrops under nearby overhangs and inside their vehicles - any place to keep dry.
“The owners have been very patient,” said show director Rich Napoli, expressing his appreciation to them for sticking it out. “We have some beautiful Cadillacs here and a stunning Bentley. They’re all here and they’re all staying,” he said of the 150 or so vehicles lining the street.
The show’s Logistics director Paul Salvatore said they lost a few cars due to the rain, “but a lot showed up, too,” he said. “The cars are here and we’re judging them. We’re not leaving,” he said.
The morning rain, which developed quickly, pretty much took everyone by surprise, he said. “This wasn’t supposed to be an issue,” said Salvatore. “But we’ve had a great turn out of cars and vendors. Hopefully it dries out and we’ll get more people.”
Car show volunteers Charlie Lewis and Fred Fletcher we’re dodging raindrops as they judged the Corvette class, jotting down notes on soggy pieces of paper.
Lewis said he remembers one car show years ago where it rained so hard that only three cars showed up. “We gave them each a trophy and sent them on their way,” he said.
Around noon, with rain still falling from the sky on what was forecast to be a hot, but sunny day, Napoli made the decision to hand out the trophies an hour earlier then planned.
“It’s disappointing with the rain because it wasn’t supposed to rain,” said Beverly Dimler, the president of the Newtown Business Association, which organizes the show. “But all in all, we’re judging cars and we had over 150 show up, which is spectacular. People are walking around with umbrellas and buying food. It’s not as packed as we would have liked, but the show is going on. These guys are die hards. They love their cars.”
Raindrops continued to fall as Napoli and members of the Sock ‘n Buskin crew, who spent much of the day sheltered under a overhang at Stuckart and Yates, handed out trophies in front of the Newtown Borough Hall.
The long awaited sunshine finally broke through the clouds as the Best of Show trophy was being announced, suddenly transforming the gloom into splashes of color as the sunlight glistened off of the vehicles parked along the street.
Bucks County philanthropist and car enthusiast Gene Epstein rolled home with this year’s Best of Show trophy.
His rare and awesome ride - a 1952-1953 Bentley “Graber” Geneva Show Car - added to its list of impressive local and national awards with the Newtown award.
Epstein posed for a photograph with his Bentley and members of the Sock ‘n Buskin crew from Council Rock High School North who came dressed in costumes from the 1970s.
This was the final hurrah for the Buskins at the car show since their director and talented costume designer Sandy Chantry is retiring.
It was also Napoli’s last year as the show’s chairman. He is stepping down after expanding the show and adding a featured marque vehicle to the events lineup.
As he made his way to the microphone to address the crowd, they spontaneously chanted, “Four more years, four more years.”
He started by thanking everyone who turned out for the show and gave special shoutouts to the Buskins and to their leader, Sandy Chantry, who add their special brand of ambiance to the show with their costuming.
He also gave another shoutout to the vehicle owners . “We Love looking at your cars. They really are automotive art. Thank you for all the time you spent preparing them and bringing them here.
“We’ve been trying to raise the profile of the show and improve it. Hopefully my successor will take it even further than that.”