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Thursday, September 4, 2014


I rarely look forward to an event's conclusion, except in the case of the Car Show to benefit the Library.

From April until August 23rd, my life was given to the cause. If I had free time, it was mostly devoted to the gathering of sponsors, trying to get cars, trucks, and motorcycles to attend with their owners, and attempting to bring together my poor fractured town over the common ground the Library provides the community at large.

We are a town of around 25,000 in four separate governing entities –

Middletown Borough, which as of late, has been the comic-relief of the area. The Mayor and council seem to be at odds with each other, up to and including fist fighting, yet they are elected for the COMMUNITY'S interests. Huh...

Lower Swatara Township, which is the wealthiest section of town, seems to be doing the best, of the four. They have high taxes, but the least issues on the surface. The area is clean and relatively crime-free.

Royalton Borough, the sister of Middletown, shares a post office but little else, it seems. It is a small, small town of around 1000 with folks of a similar outlook, yet it's politics are as shaky as anywhere else. Why can't elected officials just do the RIGHT thing by it's constituents instead of letting greed and stupidity take over? Ugh....

Londonderry Township is part Middletown, part Lancaster County, which confuses me to no end. Those that have a Middletown address, go to a different school system, have their own separate governing body, and few of the problems that the Borough has. It seems their citizens are more involved compared to the other three areas, and they have a public-owned golf course that has done well to keep taxes low.

With four sections to my town, four agendas, four sets of politicians, and four corners to a square, it's no wonder I feel we are unrelated and do not play together well. I felt the Library could be a unifying cause that could mend some of the discord but as usual, I was wrong. It certainly was a learning experience to see government work from the inside. Or not...

Asking our small businesses for a donation was easy. I used the logical approach and asked only for what would be comfortable to the owner. Some gave services, some gave a donation, a few sponsored a trophy class. It was a largely positive experience that made me realize just how often these men and women are asked to give. Almost daily, they are approached by people have their hands out for something or another. I'm sure it get's tiring and I can only imagine how I would react. Most admitted they wanted to help, but couldn't. I accepted that and moved onto the next. In all, I contacted hundreds of businesses and we ultimately ended up with over 40 that managed to participate.

In trying to get the vehicles, I attended some shows and got a lot of help from a friend I'd known for 40 years. When you go to another car show, it's common practice to pass out flyers to alert owners you have an event to plan for. The only issue is, there might be as many as 20 flyers ending up in their cars. How do we stand out?? That's why I was so adamant about the little things, like the paper used, getting a professional to come up with a logo, and how the flyer of ours was designed. It definitely stood out among the crowd. I spent a few hours getting it right and got a compliment on one of the first I handed out. It made me smile, knowing that it was noticed.

One of the trinkets that car owners like is a commemorative dash plaque. They are simple and plain, but are collectible and expected at most shows. We did not disappoint as a neighbor from way back showed me a unique design that I knew would be perfect for our event. It was in the shape of a coaster and with our title of Wine Wheels & Beer, it made sense. The logo on it really stands out and was another way we were different than the same old same old.

So what did all this agonizing and extra work mean to the outcome?

I have to say, not much.

Everything you can do to make a show big was done except for one small detail – the weather. A week from show-date, the weather looked awful. Rain and showers and yuk. A few days later, it looked like it was going to be fine... sunny and bright with temperatures in the 70's. A few days later, it went back to showers. Ugh....

The day of the actual show, it didn't rain a drop. EVERYWHERE else it did, but not at the Vineyards at Hershey, where we were hoping for sunshine. This kept many, many owners (including me!) from showing off their pride and joy, yet 76 vehicles dared it to rain and allowed us to almost reach our financial goal, in spite of what Mother Nature threatened. I guess I should think of it as a success, yet I wanted it to be legendarily huge, with a large crowd oogling the hundreds of vehicles in attendance, and the word spreading about just how awesome of an event was held.

It's nice to want....

In actuality, the benefit was understaffed, a bit unorganized, a little under-appreciated, a smidge under-planned, and in general, most of the attendees enjoyed themselves so it was all quickly forgotten. Time and time again we heard how much they were looking forward to next year. I guess they figured the weather can't be crappy two years in a row!

The volunteers we DID have gave their best effort and it was much appreciated. Without the core of folks who always support the library, we would have had a disaster on our hands. From parking assistants to registration help, to the kind souls who showed up, and made the day go by quickly and without much drama.

Will I do this again next year? No way!

Am I glad I did it this year? Yes way! 

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