New Kensington Car Show rolls into town Sunday
Mustangs, Chevrolets, Roadsters. A 1934 model T Ford.
All of those and more will be showcased Sunday at the 13th Annual Car Show at The River New Kensington — A Community Church.
"It's out biggest outreach and community event of the year," said Nicky Magnelli, church ministry coordinator and secretary.
The church started in December 2004 at Penn State New Kensington, and the first car show was held on the campus in June 2006.
The Rev. Dean Ward said the show was inspired by his parents Larry and Faye Ward, who were longtime car enthusiasts. They owned a 1957 Ford convertible with a retractable hardtop, and went to an Ohio church that held a big car cruise every Labor Day weekend.
"It was an (integral) part of their lives," he said.
Ward said he initially wasn't interested in hosting a car show, but his mother insisted. He eventually gave in.
"My mother kept telling me we needed to do this," he said.
The first event featured 25 cars. Last year's event had nearly 200.
"When we moved to our current location the event started growing and really took off," Ward said. "We have opened it up to any vehicle of any kind. We've had some unique ones."
The vehicles are usually a mix of classic and newer model cars, trucks, and motorcycles. One year someone even brought an airplane.
"We get a lot of the Chevrolet Cutlass and the Bel Airs," Magnelli said. "Last year we had ... a 1940 Chevrolet Master Deluxe. We get cars from the 1960s. A 1934 model T (Ford) ... comes every year. Then we get some of the newer cars — there's a whole group of people that usually bring their Ford Mustangs."
The show draws between 1,500-2,000 people each year and is a unique way to promote church outreach and give back to New Kensington. It's completely free and isn't a fundraiser.
"It is an awesome event," Magnelli said. "Our youth pastor likes to say that the car show really isn't about the cars — it's about having the opportunity to show Jesus to a community and show appreciation to this area."
"Our church is just very committed to making New Kensington a positive place. That's just sort of in our DNA."
"It feels like Christmas morning," Ward said. "It's just a day of significant anticipation and excitement and joy. It's our favorite day of the year."
Bob Beveridge and Rick Jacobus, both of New Kensington, are longtime car show participants. Neither belong to the church, but have known Ward for a long time, and want to support him.
"Dean Ward has been phenomenal in promoting youth and other things in this community — it needs more people like Dean," Beveridge said. "It's just a good thing for the community and I wish there were more things like that in our community 'cause it needs it."
This year Beveridge, 65, will be showing off his 1957 Corvette Convertible. Jacobus, 71, will bring his 1966 Corvette Roadster.
"I've already signed up and I'm ready to go," Jacobus said.
Jacobus said the car show brings the community together and is one of the best of its kind around. He looks forward to it every year.
"I wouldn't miss it," he said. "He puts on one of the nicer of all the events of the year. The hospitality is second to none down there."
Vehicle registration is from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. An outdoor church service will take place at 10:45 a.m., followed by a buffet and an awards ceremony. A kids play area with inflatable bounce houses will be set up. There will also be door prizes.
Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4702, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @maddyczebstrib.