Sunday, November 23, 2014

With a little help from our friends.....

On October 6th this year I received a forwarded email from our friend, Fred Fann, which is the President of the Car Club Council of Central Virginia.  It was a message from Judy Popov, the Marketing Manager for Welburn Management, inquiring about a “car show” for a Grand Opening of a local McDonald’s in Spotsylvania, VA.  After a couple messages back and forth, our group, Cruisin For Heroes, agreed to assist Judy with her request.  We were to provide 12 vehicles to be displayed in the McDonald parking lot.  We were to share the lot with two Spotsylvania Sherriff vehicles that were to be used to “stuff a cruiser” with food for local needy families and a couple very large pieces of rescue equipment from the Chancellor Volunteer Fire & Rescue.  For providing these vehicles for a 5 hour display the Welburn Management Company would make a $500 donation to Fisher House Foundation.  

Since we only had 54 days to put the display together….we had to move quickly.  We had to ensure that our display grid would include only spectator friendly vehicles with friendly, outgoing owners.  The weather is always a consideration and since it would be in late November it could be cold and/or wet!  After considering our choices of vehicles/owners we decided to invite Ken & Carmen Billings with their 55 Chevy BelAir, Bill & Debbie Bell with their ’23 Model T Speedster, Rick & Kim Sinclair with their ’03 Chevy Silverado, Bill Errera & JoAnn Meneloas with their ’57 Chevy BelAir, Bill & Linda Barnes with their ’65 Plymouth Valiant, Denny & Betty Raymond and their ’34 Gatsby, Duane & Valerie Mitchell and their ’67 Mustang, Ron Lacasse & Donna Aker with their ’69 Camaro.  Then with Lou & Arlene and their ’53 Ford Sunliner, Dan & Ramona Crane with their ’55 Chevy, Fred & Debie Davis with their ’57 Dodge and the Princess & I with our ’49 Chevy truck, this would provide the rest of the 12 vehicles for the display.
After a hiccupping start in Stafford the group began to arrive at the site from all directions of the compass.  There were a couple abandoned vehicles in the parking lot that had to be removed but everyone finally got settled in for a cold day at McDonald’s.  The cloudless sky allowed the sun to shine brilliantly belying the fact that the air temp was about -258 degrees with a 40 kt wind making the chill factor about absolute zero!  We all took turns going inside the warm restaurant for coffee and burgers….then back outside to interact with the spectators that milled among the vehicles throughout the day.  The cold made it difficult to do my normal impersonation of a flightless bird….running around waving my arms and making noise.  I tried to keep my hands in my pockets if I could and keep the talking to a minimum so I wouldn’t frostbite my vocal cords….grin  Everyone persevered and I’m told that they all enjoyed the day out with their hot rod.  The fact that we earned $500 for Fisher House Foundation was not lost on anyone either, it was another good day for our Veterans and the other organizations the Welburn Group shared with!
Judy was managing the event like a Swiss watch with the official ribbon cutting ceremony beginning at 11AM that included the big check presentations.  Mr. & Mrs. Welburn and their family all participated in the Grand Opening ceremony….it was a family affair.  The Spotsylvania County Sherriff’s Office, Chancellor Fire & Rescue, Fisher House Foundation, Spotsylvania County Public Schools all received presentation checks.  The National Wildlife Federation presented Mrs. Welburn with the “Certified Wildlife Habitat” certificate & plaque and our group, Cruisin For Heroes, presented Judy with a plaque of appreciation for working with us to serve our Veterans through Fisher House Foundation.
Ronald McDonald was energetically cruising through the crowds stopping at the different activity stations, doing magic tricks and other feats of wonder to the amazement of all.  Sparky and SafteyPup, the Fire & Rescue mascots, also mingled inside and outside with the crowds while they posed for pictures.  They had a face painter working tirelessly with her magic paint while the DJ kept the mood very upbeat. 
It was a great day for McDonald’s AND the local community.  This restaurant was built to be a certified eco-friendly establishment and is managed by sensitive friendly people willing to give back to the community while they serve it too.  Stop by and check it out….I think you will be impressed.
 

Ft. Belvoir Fisher House

Thursday, Nov 20, 2014…..we had an appointment at Fr. Belvoir, VA.  Our group, Cruisin For Heroes, wanted to visit the Fisher House that was across the street from the sprawling Base hospital at Ft. Belvoir.  Since it was a weekday not all of our members could make it so Lou & Arlene, Fred, the Princess & I were to represent CFH for the day.  After three changes of convoy leaders (only three vehicles) we finally arrived a little late….but we had a good impromptu tour of the Base enroute to the FH….  Upon arrival we were welcomed by the facility manager, Roxanna Maria (Miss Roxy), and given an abbreviated tour of the public areas that were accessible to visitors at the time.  The House is magnificently built and decorated to feel like a home….not a house!  It seems that every need the Veteran and/or their family might have can be addressed onsite.  The facility is about two years old and is usable for any need.  The bronze plaque at the entrance says it all for me; “THE ZACHARY AND ELIZABETH FISHER HOUSE….THIS GIFT IS DEDICATED TO OUR GREATEST NATIONAL TREASURE OUR MILITARY SERVICE MEN AND WOMEN AND THEIR LOVED ONES”.
Reading and studying about a subject is always helpful….but physical immersion in the subject always leaves one with a much more visceral understanding of the subject….it is so much more meaningful to see/touch the Fisher House in person than looking at a picture in a brochure. 
We visited for about an hour then Lou & I presented Miss Roxy with the “big” check that represented the proceeds from the Valley Mustangs Unlimited car club show in August.  She said it will all help keep the lights burning and the heat on….  We feel so blessed to be the face representing all the people that donated to help Fisher House Foundation through CFH so far this year. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Veterans Day 2014

Tuesday, Nov 11, 2014….Andrew met with the Princess & I at our home and we car pooled 125 miles to Staunton, VA to meet up with the Valley Mustangs Unlimited car club.  Along the way, near Culpeper, we joined Lou & Arlene and Fred and followed them the rest of the way to Staunton.  We arrived a little early in Staunton so we made sure the Dunkin Donuts were safe to eat….it’s a public service we perform whenever we can.  When the sinkers hit bottom we drove to the nearby Lowe’s parking lot for a few pictures of the Mustang club that had gathered.  When all the cruisers were accounted for we cruised to the Local VFW a few miles away.  Valley Mustangs Unlimited had committed to donate the proceeds from the show they held in August this year to the Fisher House Foundation.  Our group, Cruisin For Heroes, was presented with a check for $3094.12 in a ceremony in the VFW hall.  It was a moving experience for all….  I was interviewed for a local TV station and I don’t think I embarrassed myself too much….  The camaraderie between the Veterans and the two ‘car’ groups was something to see and experience.  The Respect was going both ways….really cool.  It was a great day for all and especially for the Fisher House Foundation.   I love this hobby


https://www.flickr.com/photos/53063560@N05/sets/72157648832959507/


http://www.whsv.com/home/headlines/New-Homes-to-Help-Veterans-282589191.html


http://www.teamfisherhouse.org/site/TR/3rdPartyFundraisers/3rdPartyFundraisers?px=1020588&pg=personal&fr_id=1240

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Another busy day....


Saturday, Nov 8 we began our adventures by attending the monthly breakfast hosted by the Fredericksburg Classic & Muscle Car Club at the Golden Corral in Massaponax, VA.  This club always has these informal get-together’s during the winter.  It’s a cool way to stay connected with each other while the hot rods spend more time in the garage than on the road.  The gatherings are open to all hot rodders; regardless of club affiliation….it really is a neat deal.  We visited and ate for about an hour then said our goodbyes and began the next leg of the day’s schedule. 

We drove our daily driver because we didn’t know what to expect at the next event, the Paws4Vets dog walk?  Two of our friends are connected to the organization and we wanted to support their efforts so for that reason we agreed to attend.   We arrived at Old Mill Park in Fredericksburg, VA to find DJ Ron already set up with his traveling music trailer and two clowns roaming around.  And….there were people walking dogs, what a concept!  Paws4Vets is an organization that matches service dogs with Veterans that need assistance that they are not getting.  The dogs can be trained to help PTSD sufferers, diabetic problems, blind or hearing impaired, as well as many other issues that the dogs unique senses can help the Veterans with.  The cost of these amazing animals can be north of $45,000…..yup!  The cost is high but the value is higher for the Veterans as their four legged companions truly make a life or death difference.  The event was held to benefit Walter who is suffering from Vietnam era PTSD that was awakened recently by a bout with Lyme disease.  His service dog, Jackson, was the gentlest little setter I have ever seen….and it is a constant companion for Walter that senses when Walter needs the attention to bring him back. 

The event was held to raise money to pay it forward so the next Veteran will have the option of having a service animal in their lives.  They had a silent auction and were taking donations for the cause.  There were about 22 dogs on the “walk” pattern and some just came to support the event.  Bill & Debie brought out the newly commissioned puppymobile with their dogs, Cooley & Riggins aboard.  I think Bill has way too much time on his hands….maybe….but then again maybe the just a little crazy Debbie encourages him too much….you decide!  Ron tried out the puppymobile but I think it had too much motor for Ron…..HO HO HO.  After the closing ceremony we all packed up and headed for Shannon Airport….

You all know I like airplanes more than hot rods….I just can’t afford a flying machine nor do I have a place to keep one….so I just take every opportunity that is presented to me to be among them.  Debie (not Debbie?) invited us to attend the re-opening of the airport with Debie’s boss, the new owner, dedicating it in a very informal event.  Informal it was….but….there were some very powerful elected officials.  Like Congressman Rob Wittman, Senator Reeves and others!  The new owner, dedicated the airport to serve the area in a more aggressive and positive way and to help be one of the economic engines that take Fredericksburg into the future. 

When we arrived we were directed to park in the overflow parking….just a little way from the entrance to the event….about 428 little miles away.  But not to worry….we were able to walk on the rolling grass field to the podium area….actually it was pitted with deep holes that were camouflaged with the long grass…..it was an experience to traverse and remain upright!  But walking with Debie & Fred while the Princess & I stumbled along must have been a sight to behold….but we made it.  We listened to the speeches, watched some airplanes take off & land and decided it was about time to leave.  Then Bill & Debbie arrived….hungry!  They suggested we try a new, to us; Mexican Restaurant called El Pino on Rt. 3.  We all like the south of the border food, so off we started….to retrace our steps….on the 428 mile trek back to the chuckling car.  Whew….  

The restaurant was superb….the food was great, the wait staff was very attentive….the prices were extremely fair.  We all ate too much and had enough fun that other establishments may have asked us to leave….but here….they just kept bringing us food!  I would recommend this restaurant….in fact we returned the next day with some other friends and it was like déjà, all over again with the great food and service.  You have to check it out if you’re in Fredericksburg sometime.

Eventually we headed for home….about 12 hours of fun with friends….


 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I love the smell of Avgas in the morning....


Saturday the Princess & I left the WAWA at 10AM to begin our 32 mile cruise to Culpeper Airport….we have done this twice in two weeks!  The weather was so very different from two weeks ago when we endured the gloomy, wet day at AirFest.  But today was picture perfect with deep blue skies, puffy white clouds and a gentle breeze….and we were going to be among airplanes!  How could it get better?  Along the way we met Lou & Arlene as we completed our cruise to the airport.

Some of you may know that my Dad was a fighter pilot….he flew P-51 Mustangs in WWII.  I never pass up a chance to be in the company of one of those artifacts of American ingenuity and exceptionalism….   The Princess has her red ’94 Mustang GT that I bought her for our 30th wedding anniversary and she wanted to have a picture of it taken next to a P-51 Mustang….to connect in some way to my Dad’s Mustang.  We rarely take her Mustang anywhere but today was going to be special because the event was going to have a P-51 present for pictures.  Unfortunately the old Warbird wasn’t up to the task on Saturday.  Remember the old Mustangs are all over 60 years old, some more than that.  It takes a very intense and costly maintenance program to keep the old birds in the air….and at $2.5mil per airplane it’s not something you just wing it with (no pun intended).  Not to mention, as my Dad would say, “they never left one up there”….and with an oil leak you just don’t want to take a chance turning the old Mustang into a glider….understood!  But I was thoroughly bummed out….and unfortunately it messed up my day altogether….I’ll get over it….but….

About 58 cars & trucks attended as well as a gaggle of bikes….which included David’s beautiful purple Harley.  My favorite ride on the ramp was the red ’47 Chevy AD pickup.  The owner had just about every period correct option installed on it….that included a cigarette dispenser!  And he was not bashful about explaining everything about it.  Wyatt brought his DeLorean from Annapolis and Duane brought his very yellow Mustang from Culpeper.  The 1960 German Ford Taunus with the SBC was in the field with many more friends and their rides.  I like the Military encampment that was set up….it added a certain ambiance to the event.  The food served in the Commemorative Air Force hanger was very good and the restrooms were kept clean and stocked throughout the day. They brought the Yak and a TBM out for pictures with cars then later a T6 was added for another backdrop.  There was also a T6 flying and I saw a C140 launch….that is the kind of airplane I learned to fly in.  It was a good turn out when you consider there were three other shows running within 40 miles!  I will always vote to attend an event that has airplanes….oh yeah.  They are going to have more events like this next year....we will be there!

It’s getting near the end of our season….just a few more events and we rest the truck for four months.  Our Over The River And Through The Woods Run on November 29 then a week later our Toys For Tots run on December 6 will finish the season….

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Here comes Fall....


Friday the Princess & I cruised to VA BBQ and the weekly gathering in Fredericksburg, VA.  The nights are getting cooler and darkness descends on the neighborhood earlier every week.  And we get to set our clocks back in a couple weeks….whoopee!  One of the neat things about fall is the sunsets.  The air is always clearer and colors are in the sky as well as the leaves.  And so begins another magical season for us to marvel about.

About 30 cars came out to enjoy the evening with us and the conversation topics ranged everywhere; from cars-food-kids/grandkids-spouses-political-social issues-weather-you name it!  When you are with friends anything is fair game to talk about….we may not always agree….but we are almost always agreeable!  Fred won a VA BBQ, anatomically correct, pig trophy….so now he has something else to cherish from his adventures with Maxine.  Earlier in the day I had switched the water valve on the heater hose under the hood of the truck to “winter” position….so the Princess was contented with the cruise back home.  It was cool enough that her private little summer vacations she gets, wasn’t enough to keep her comfy.  She is so high maintenance.

Saturday we left Stafford, VA and cruised 35 miles to Opal, VA to the start point of our second Roaring 20’s cruise of the year.  Five of us left Opal and were joined by Bob as we passed Culpeper.  When we arrived at the first pit stop in Madison, 38 miles from Opal, three more joined us for the last 5 mile leg of the cruise. 

We had lead a cruise to this museum/collection nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in late June this year.  This museum is a one of a kind deal….you will find amazing artifacts of the American automobile industry displayed everywhere.  It showcases the beginnings of our automobile culture through unique vehicles and ends with some oddities of the 1950’s.  And as the name implies, the majority of the display is from the 20’s & 30’s.    You will also find an unbelievable amount of automobile memorabilia and other mechanical artifacts from that era.  Stationary engines, powered farm implements, chain saws, lawn mowers, a few bicycles can be discovered among the vehicles.  You will also find other antique items like stoves, dishes, dolls, furniture, models, sewing machines, vacuum cleaners, typewriters....you just have to see it….which you can’t in one visit!  It is not a polished, temperature controlled, antiseptically clean display, leave your white gloves home.  It is as if the founder, John Dudley, just brought everything in and parked it last month….then left.  John & his wife, Clarissa, have passed and the museum is now in the capable hands of their daughter, Martha.  Since we plan our cruises to raise awareness to our charity, Fisher House Foundation, Martha graciously agreed to not charge us for the visit.  We received $55 in donations to Fisher House….it was a good day!

I cannot amply describe the contents of this museum but you can go to the site I have stored the pictures I took….and maybe….maybe….you can get a flavor of the experience.  It is a sensory overload….you cannot see everything in one visit, trust me on this!

After we finished the visit some of us began our next 25 miles on the way to Wood Grille Buffet in Charlottesville, VA.  This restaurant always accommodates us on our cruises in this part of Virginia.  Their food is yummy and they give all us seniors a discount….just because we are so pretty!  The staff is attentive and thorough.  Their parking lot is huge so we never worry about parking lot damage to our rides when we eat there.  After we all ate too much we loosened our belts and contemplated our 85 mile trip back to Stafford.  The amazing thing about the way we like to cruise is the destination is not the only high point of the day….it’s the journey too!  The day was perfect, deep blue skies, white puffy clouds, dark green grass and moderate temperatures….it really was perfect!  Driving around on the Virginia byways is enjoyable in itself….  The Princess is getting much better at recording our adventures in photos….you have to check out the images….go along with us….be part of the fun….I love this hobby.

 

Pictures from June; https://www.flickr.com/photos/53063560@N05/sets/72157645479673783/

Monday, October 13, 2014

Just another day at the airport....


Saturday, after buying three giant thermal containers of coffee and all the support supplies for them at WAWA, the Princess & I left Stafford at 5:15 and cruised 32 miles to Culpeper Regional Airport….in the rain.  This would be the 5th time we have supported the Airport’s annual AirFest event.  Our group, Cruisin For Heroes (CFH), invites a mix of interesting special vehicles to display on a lot next to the only entrance to the day’s festivities.  We try to screen the invitees to our display so we end up with people friendly people as well as their interesting vehicles.  The display is meant to compliment the AirFest event but not distract from it, so we have to be careful what/who we invite.  We began planning for this year’s event while we were executing last year’s event….always improve….Kiazen. 

This year the Airport staff was expecting in excess of 12,000 spectators!  They would bus them to the event then back to their vehicles from nearby High Schools.  The Airport staff was working tirelessly behind the scenes, solving the onslaught of problems the day would bring.  The local law enforcement community sets up a command trailer on the ramp, coordinates the traffic and provides any emergency equipment during the day.  It is a major event.  And did I mention it was an air show?  Yup….there would be many airplanes that would fly and WOW the spectators….not the least of which is Nalls Aviation’s Harrier.  It is the only civilian owned Harrier in existence….it is an amazing machine.  And this year there were to be 75 Warbirds!  These Civilian owned old Military airplanes from trainers, observation, fighters, bombers, transports and liaison planes are such an important part of the historical fabric of America.  A lot of noisy, really cool airplanes that when not flying are parked on the ramp and are ‘touchable’ to all the spectators!  A little after Noon the low ceiling began to lift and some of the airplanes began to fly.  It would be an abbreviated air show program but most of the show did go on, to include the Harrier!  It is truly an experience not to be missed, and it’s free. 

This year the vendor presence seemed to increase drastically to include many different kinds of foods like funnel cakes, hot dogs, hamburgers, barbeque, kettle corn, ice cream and much more!  Other vendors selling interesting local wares filled the ramp area; it looked like a tent city!  A few hangars were open to the public to include the Commemorative Air Force hangar.  This group supports the restoration as well as flying of the old warbirds.  They always have a few examples of their member’s machines lurking in their hangar.  They also have an open house every month for the public to see what they do to preserve the old air machines.

Last year it rained all day….I rolled that thought around my mind as the distance between us and the airport got shorter and shorter while I peered out the tiny cleaned spot on the windshield.  The top of our truck is chopped 4” and we have modified little 7” wiper blades to use when it rains.  They clean a spot about as big as a salad plate; it’s like mowing your grass while wearing a snorkel mask to see where you are going.  Peripheral vision is overrated.  When we arrived at the airport the youngest member of CFH, Andrew, was already parked next to the display lot and three of the sponsors vehicles were set in the display lot!  Lou had worked with the sponsor on Friday to help deliver their cars to the Airport.  As we drove past Andrew, I turned to go onto the grassed lot that we would be walking on for the next 10 hours to see if it was too soft.  When I got off the asphalt the truck bounced a little and started to make grinding noises!  I thought for a moment that we had dropped off into a quagmire of mud and grass.  So I immediately stopped, then selected reverse in the old TH350 transmission and began easing back out.  The grinding noises accompanied us till we got on the asphalt again, whew.  I jumped out (not really “jumped”, kind of a slinky fall out of the cab onto my wobbling legs and numb feet) to survey the damage, in the rain, in the dark.  Andrew was walking over to see what was going on while I was fumbling with my new cosmic tactical flashlight, that wasn’t working.  When I found my backup flashlight I saw what the ruckus was all about.  A cinder block was left on the grass!  We were next to the main gate to the airport ramp and it has two 10’ gates.  When the gates are opened they will swing shut with a little wind.  So, this is the cinder block that they put in front of the gate after it’s opened so it won’t swing closed.  Since it was early, the gates were still locked and closed and the cinder block was lying on the ground.  So while cautiously looking out the salad plate sized clean spot on my windshield, in the rain, 1 1/2 hour before sunrise…..it had escaped my attention.  The Princess was freaking out.  I think she thought we had run over something that was capable of tearing off the underside of the truck and we would see the oil running on the ground any second.  She got out and looked at the bumper and fender and pronounced that it looked serviceable.  I didn’t see any vital fluids leaking out or any parts lying on the ground so we might be OK.  I gingerly backed up to the end of the holding lot and parked with the headlights left on to illuminate some of the display lot while we maneuvered vehicles into position, in the dark, in the rain….whew.  Later inspection of the cinder block attack would reveal no damage, not even a scratch?  I guess those old bumpers were built a little different than the ones today.  While Andrew and I were discussing how we would deal with the day, Lou & Arlene drove up and parked.  Lou is the important part of this whole deal….he brings the 4 dozen doughnuts!  Shortly after Lou parked, Arlene joined the Princess in our truck so they could plot their part of the day’s activities.  Princesses don’t do anything by accident….they plan everything….we just think they are a little air headed and spontaneous….no way….hehehehe  Next Fred joined the group without Debie….she would join us later….arriving in a school bus….you have to ask her why?  Now there were six crazy people….in the cold rain….in the dark….looking at each other wondering why we have such crazy friends!  Normal people would still be home asleep or if they are up at this bizarre hour they would be sipping a warm latte in a cozy room while watching the cold rain fall outside.  And normal people would be wondering why anyone would go out in this kind of weather.  Normal?….that’s just a place in Illinois! 

About 6:30 we decided to take up our positions so Andrew left to man his critical spot.  Andrew would be the first CFH person anyone would see as they drive in on the access road.  Since many of the participants we invited this year were first timers they would need to be directed from the access road to our parking staff near the lot.  CFH was also a little short handed this weekend so initially Lou, Fred and I would be directing the placement of all the vehicles on the display lot.  Dan would be leading a group from Stafford that would leave there at 6:30….in the rain….in the dark.  When he arrived he would become the fourth person to help place vehicles on the display lot. 

As mentioned above the spectators were to be bused from two local HS and disembarked on the part of the display lot near the sidewalk.  Because of that the total size of our display lot had been reduced by about 1/3!  We had reduced the amount of people we invited by about 15 so the vehicles would not be too cramped.  With as many spectators that were expected we wanted ample room between the vehicles to prevent any damage to them.  Shortly after 6:30 the first of the days display vehicles began arriving.  Everything else that happened would be pure crisis management from this point till about 11AM.

Cory, his son and his Dad brought in their two beautiful Fairlanes and a Patriotically wrapped trailer hauling the red Fairlane.  We parked their trailer and the Fords then Fred & Lou parked the rest of the vehicles as they came in.  Since our sponsor was a Ford dealership we invited more people that had Fords.  And since there was to be a Mopar show the same day we avoided inviting any Mopars except for Bill’s Valiant.  By 8AM most of the vehicles had arrived and were in the process of settling in for the day.  Fred, Bill & Bill began setting up the hospitality canopies that would house the coffee & doughnuts.  They also set up the CFH/Fisher House Foundation canopy near the entrance.  Fisher House Foundation has been our major charity for three years now as we try to raise awareness and dollars for this fine charity that assists our returning Veterans as they mend from their war injuries.   Like the McDonald house, Fisher House houses the families of the Veterans that are in the hospital.  There is never a cost to the Veteran or their family and the Fisher Houses are placed all over the Country near VA hospitals.  You need to consider them when you do your charitable giving for the year. 

Bill brought his 1923 Model T Speedster to the party; I think it was the most popular ride all day even though Wyatt’s DeLorean always had a crowd around it too.  These two cars always attract attention wherever they are, they are so unique and the owners really like to interact with spectators.

I think it was around 9AM that the little PT Cruiser came in with the two more clowns!  Yup….clowns.  One of the vehicle invitees was Bill, his main squeeze is Jo-Ann….a sure enough, real clown!  A few months ago she had asked me if we would like to have some clowns at the event?  I never thought about that!  The event is very family centric….and everyone likes clowns….why not have them join us?  The Princess and I attended a clown gathering to make our presentation….yup, they really get together in large groups, grin.  Their group is called LUV_N_LAFFS Clown Alley.  We made a presentation about AirFest and Fisher House Foundation and invited them to share the day with us.  We knew Jo-Ann would “be in clown” for the event and hoped others would join in too.  After they parked their PT Cruiser, Bill helped them set up their canopy next to the hospitality area and the fun began!  To say the clowns added to the event is like saying the Grand Canyon is a hole in the ground….it’s so understated.  PJ the clown did face paintings under the canopy most of the day to include the two Princesses.  They would become roving cheerleaders for PJ’s art as they wandered around doing Princess stuff.  JoJo and Curly Que mingled in and out of our display, and then onto the airport ramp with the spectators and the airplanes….it was just too cool.  They made every child that saw them a little happier….and most of the adults too!  It was the best new thing we have done at AirFest in the last 5 years!

Sometime around Noon our group began to hand out our tokens of appreciation to the participants of our display.  Everyone but Andrew joined in; he was playing Uncle and chasing a little curious munchkin all over the airport.  Maybe it was a test run to see if he and Angela could keep up with the little energy machines…..grin  Anyway the rest of us thanked each participant for bringing out their prized ride, in the rain.  Some came from as far away as Annapolis, MD, about 130 miles away and Harrisonburg, VA, about 75 miles away….in the dark…..in the rain.  Some have been with us for all five years and some have joined us for the first time this year.  It is just amazing to me/us how some people will selflessly come out and share their ride with thousands of people they don’t know to benefit people they don’t know and will never know them.  It’s one of the good things that makes up the fabric of our Country….it’s what/who we are.

The biggest ‘take away’ I had from this year’s event is the way we made lemonade.  Did I mention that the day’s weather was worse than miserable?  That it was cold, raining, windy and gloomy all day?  It would have been so very easy to turn inward and complain about the circumstances that we had no control over and then the day would have been dreadful for everyone.  Or we could just press on working the event, solving problems as they came to us.  Encouraging each other, keeping our thoughts on the mission to make our part of the event as enjoyable as we could to the spectators and in the process we would find enjoyment in that.  We succeeded!  We took the lemons the weather gave us and made some lemonade….