London, OH – June 2017 – Cobra Club Gathering

In the early 1960s small British car manufacturer AC partnered with famed automotive genius Carroll Shelby to build the Cobra. This fabulous 2 seater has remained to this day one of the best examples of a sports car ever built.

A series of events over the years has lead to a large ‘replica’ market. We caught up with the Cobra Club at a truck stop near an interstate west of Columbus as they prepared to parade into the small town of London. With nearly 100 Cobra’s it was impossible for me to find the replica’s from the originals. Either way it was an impressive site, these spectacular sports cars gathered amongst the trucks.

 

Cars were from all over the U.S. and Canada.

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A Daytona – original or replica???

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The parade awaits…

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They are off…

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Enthusiastically…

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Some proud Canadians…

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An unusual site for those not expecting it, these classic cars sailing across the Ohio soybean and cornfields.

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Avon, OH – June 2017 – Duct Tape Parade

The company that founded the ubiquitous ‘duct/duck tape’ is based on the small Cleveland suburb of Avon. Since 2004 they have had a festival and parade celebrating the many uses of the tape.

Having read a few different places that this was one of the best parades in America we headed up to check it out. While there were many creative uses for duck tape, the event was nowhere near as interesting as the Twins Day Parade, Doo Dah Parade, or the Parade the Circle (and that is just in Ohio). Still it did give opportunities for some nice photographs

 

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Cleveland – June 2017 – Parade the Circle

A hot sunny Saturday found us back in University Circle in Cleveland for the Parade the Circle, an annual event sponsored by the Museum of Art. The parade is a celebration of art,, with hundreds of people participating.

This year’s theme was “Collage: A composition of often disparate elements collected and altered to complete a vision.” A photographers paradise, and with the backdrop of the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, the results were great (although I am not sure why there were so many people on stilts 🙂

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New Carlisle, OH – October 2016 – Festival of Flight

The first Saturday in October found us in the small western Ohio town of New Carlisle, for their Festival of Flight. Unlike most events that feature airplanes that are held at airports, this one went down Main Street.

Before we made it to Main Street we did stop by the local airport where the planes were arriving and being parked in a field. Once it was time for the parade to start they hooked up the little airplanes (Cessna’s and the like) to vintage tractors and off they went.

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We had made our way into town in plenty of time to find a good spot, and waited for the parade. We walked up and down the street and checked out the booths, most of which told typical country fare, quilts, Nascar t shirts, and a Trump booth. Despite being totally out of place with the local crowd, the event itself was totally worth the trip. Eventually we found a shady spot, and set the chairs down.

The parade began with a few local politicians and the local high school marching band, before the real fun began with the airplanes rolling down Main Street.

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Many of the little planes wingspan came right over us on the edge of the sidewalk.

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There was even an ultralight

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The parade continued for 30 minutes with a number of planes making an appearance.

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Just to keep with things out of place there were a number of boats on trailers with people in them that went by.

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A flying pig???

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Since we caught the parade at the beginning, and it essentially circled the middle of the town we were able to move around the corner and see the parade come back…

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Detroit and Beyond – August 2016 – A Weekend of Spectacular Automobiles

 

Sometimes it seems we get on a theme for a period of time, and I realize we often find events with wheels, but the third weekend in August was the best weekend of automobiles we have had. The main event of the weekend was to go to Detroit for the Woodward Dream Cruise. We had been to this a few years earlier passing through, but this year I wanted to spend the day checking out the events.

We left Columbus before dawn, arriving in downtown Detroit by 9 AM. Most of the cruise takes place in suburban Oakland County, but I had read that the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant had an event the day of the cruise. The Piquette Avenue Plant is a museum in the second home of Ford, and is known as the birthplace of the Model T. It is the oldest automobile factory building in the world open to the public, and has been open as a museum since 2001. On this day they were going to have a cruise of classic cars up Woodward through the city to Oakland County.

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As I drove up in my Audi S5 to the front of the factory the attendant said ‘are you cruising with us today’? When I commented that I thought it was for classic cars, he said mine was easily cool enough to come along, which of course brought a smile to my face. But still initially we parked in a vacant lot across the street (being inner city Detroit there are many vacant lots), crossed the street where we signed in, and followed a lady inside to see the factory. Little did I realize we were going to start out on a freight elevator, the same elevator that took finished Model T’s out a hundred years earlier!

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Already mesmerized we walked out onto the old wooden floors to see a large collection of Model Ts, Model As and others displayed down the production floor. For a car guy this was like being where the telephone, radio and television were perfected, only all in 1 place! I stood there imagining what it would’ve been like full of machinery, noisy and smelly, but re-inventing the world as we now know it. In addition to the vehicles the museum did a great job of displaying photos and other artifacts explaining the production there.

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On the third level were even more cars represented, this time from various periods including a 1964 Mustang and a early 2000s reproduction GT.

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As we left the building the attendants again asked if I was coming along – of course. The parking lot was filled with American muscle, from hot rods to tricked out Mustangs, as well as a few old Model Ts, which were honored to lead the parade. The Detroit Police had been contracted to lead the parade and off we went, all these classic American with my German ‘hot rod’.

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The drive up Woodward goes through much of what most people think of Detroit, blocks upon blocks of vacant lots or burned out buildings. But we also passed a couple of really nice looking neighborhoods. As we drove everyone walking along the street would wave, shout and take pictures because very few of the cars in town would come into this area.We had as much fun as they did, taking photos of the neighborhoods, going through every red light (probably a good thing), until we reached the edge of town and joined the rest of the Woodward Cruise crowd.

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As we continued north our parade did a U turn and went through Palmer Park. As we drove it seemed more cars joined in. Once you reached Ferndale the street becomes 4 lanes each way with a huge median strip for those Michigan left turns (U turns). From this point there was a traffic jam for 10 miles, but one of the best looking traffic jams you will ever see.

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The Woodward Dream cruise has no rules about who can and can’t drive up and down the street, so you get a mix of about 70% cruisers and 30% your normally frumpy Honda just trying to go to the grocery store. The cruise is the world’s largest one-day automotive event, drawing 1.5 million people and 40,000 classic cars each year from around the globe—from as far away as New Zealand, Australia, Japan and the former Soviet Union.

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Every parking lot was having some sort of event, Chrysler had a Mopar display in a shopping center, Ford had Mustang Alley down 9 Mile Road. With the afternoon getting late and rain coming in we decided to move on, but not for home as we had more cars planned for the next day.

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Leaving Detroit through the southeastern Michigan countryside, we eventually stopped in Angola Indiana for the night, stopping briefly on some country road to stand where Michigan, Indiana and Ohio come together.

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The next morning we made our way to Auburn, Indiana, first touring the National Auto and Truck Museum. This museum is in some of the remaining production buildings of the Auburn Automobile, including the Service and New Parts Building, and the L-29 Cord Building.

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The Service and Parts building, built in 1923, was used for test – driving automobiles, factory service and distribution of parts to distributors and dealers all over the world. The L29 building was built in 1928-29 for assembly and storage before shipping, and was innovative in it’s use of skylights that opened to provide ventilation.

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Also here is an extensive toy and model cars and trucks display from the 1800s to present day. In the lower level in an extensive truck display include a custom built GM vehicle called the Futurliner,  one of 12 large dual-front wheeled display vehicles that crisscrossed the country in the early 1950’s, part of a General Motors promotion called the Parade of Progress.

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Next door is the beautiful Auburn, Cord, Dusenberg Museum. This building functioned as the Corporate offices as well as an extensive showroom, with the showroom section exceeding even the Packard Museum in Dayton for a stunning display of automotive brilliance. Never have I seen more beautiful cars in a magnificent setting.

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The upper level feature more of the 3 brands over the years. The Dusenberg’s particularly were stunning cars with their long hoods and art deco feel. The upper level also houses the design studios that were used, complete with some of the original desks and designs. This museum and these automobiles truly are works of art, highly recommended to anyone who appreciates either.

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As we made our way to our last stop of the day we passed through Fairmount, Indiana, home of James Dean. They play it up, as most towns do their famous sons or daughters, but in the end it is just a simple little town in the middle of cornfields.

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Finally we reached the small town of Alexandria, Indiana where we had an afternoon of watching go cart racing through the streets of the town. These small karts can hit speeds of 80 MPH down the 3 block long straights.

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There were a number of classes for both adults and kids, with the racing close and fast. But you can only have so much fun over two days with things with wheels, and ours came to an end, so we headed off for the 3 hour drive back to Columbus.

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Loudenville, OH – July 2016 – Flxible Bus Gathering

As mentioned in a previous posting when we went to Loudenville for the melting ice sculpture festival, Flxible buses had been built there for a number of years. Many people have bought old buses and transformed them into RVs, the most famous being used in the Robin William movie RV. Once every two years a large group of them gather in Loudenville for a reunion.

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After a brief stop at Mohican State Park, we arrived in ‘downtown’ Loudenville, where we found a nice spot in the shade and waited the 30 minutes or so for the parade to start. The parade was lead off with a local police car, followed by a 1960s Hearse – then you saw them – 15 somewhat smelly, somewhat noisy, but beautiful, lumbering giants coming down the hill.

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Some of the exteriors were restored to look original to the 1950s or 1960s, but most had very decorative paint jobs. One, clearly a Texan, had an outline of the state painted like the flag with a comet sailing down the side to a porthole for the bathroom outlined with another large star. A field of stars adorned the bottom half of the bus. Most had unique named, like a purple bus called Plum Crazy, another was Ruthie.

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We sat next to some of the family members who had come in from all over the United States. They told us there was an open house immediately following the parade at the campgrounds just south of town where everyone was staying. So after the 15 minute parade we moved to the campgrounds where we enjoyed an hour of checking out the variety of interior finishes, as well as the very proud owners talking about their effort in their restorations. Most of the interiors appears to have been restored in the 1980s.

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Our return trip focused on staying on small township or state highways, resulting in a pleasing hour drive back to town. If you find yourself in Loudenville, Ohio in July of even numbered years, a visit to the Flxible Bus Gathering is recommended.

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