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  • Democrat and Chronicle

    Wegmans marks 25 years of Corvettes, Mustangs, Camaros and other classics in Canandaigua

    By Mike Murphy, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle,


    CANANDAIGUA, NY — Oh, to get behind the wheel of a bright orange 1965 Corvette, windows down, Sam The Sham and the Pharaohs’ “Wooly Bully” on the radio and no particular place to go.

    Most can only dream, including 13-year-old Caleb Wood, who goes to Canandaigua Middle School and developed a passion for classic cars thanks to the animated “Cars” movies.

    Caleb is a big Corvette fan, and he came to the right spot, the west parking lot of the Wegmans grocery in Canandaigua where for 25 years, fans of these works of road art, as well as other makes and models that captured the dreams of 13-year-olds from well before Caleb’s time, have gathered to ogle, ask questions of the owners and dream.

    “We were thinking how cool it would be to sit in one and drive around,” Caleb said.

    Wegmans team members started the classic car cruise nights in 1999 simply because they love cars and thought it would be a fun way to bring the car community together.

    They were right on.

    The event now averages 150 to 200 cars and hundreds of employees and community members, according to Canandaigua Store Manager Larry Gamer.

    “It’s great to see folks who have been coming for 25 years as well as those who are new to the event,” Gamer said. “Everyone gets so excited when it’s car cruise season.”

    Ed Blance, by the way, does get to drive the orange Corvette. Every time the Canandaigua classic car owner — he also has a 1975 Volkswagen and 1935 Chevrolet — looks at it, drives it or even listens to it, brings a smile to his face.

    "Just because of the thrill of it,” Blance said. “They’re so much fun, they’re so unique. The power ... there's just a lot of pleasure riding in it and driving it.”

    The car cruise nights, which are up and running Thursday nights through Aug. 29, are fun ways for owners to catch up and talk with other classic car owners too. Everybody has a story about their car, when they bought it, how long they’ve had it and what they like about it.

    They don't mind sharing, either.

    Cathy Popple laughingly describes her husband Steve's seventh Corvette as "the other woman."

    This particular 'vette is one he's especially revved up about. "It's the only one I've become attached to," he said.

    Ordinarily, Steve is not a big car show guy, although he’s been coming to this one just down the road from where the Popples live for years.

    “I like driving the cars, but it’s fun to see,” he said, looking out over the parking area.

    In his line of sight is Mike Van Dusen, who brought classic motorcycles in the early days of the Wegmans event. Now, he’s behind the wheel of a 1931 Model A Roadster, and the hooting and hollering for him comes just about every time he drives it on the City Pier.

    “Old people like it. Young kids like it,” Van Dusen said. “Since I’ve had it back on the road the last few years, probably had over 1,000 pictures taken, and not just around here.”

    Some would consider these kings and queens of the roads of yore works of art. Count Caleb in on that group.

    The designs of these older cars are just so much more interesting, he said.

    “All the ones today look all smoothed out,” Caleb said. “But these ones are all cool.”

    More details on Wegmans classic car cruise nights

    Anyone interested in showing off their classic cars, trucks or motorcycles is welcome to attend the car cruise event, which is held from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Aug. 29 in the Wegmans grocery parking lot, 345 Eastern Blvd., Canandaigua.

    The event is free and open to the public.

    A special 25th anniversary celebration will be held July 25, with cake and live music.

    Mike Murphy covers Canandaigua and other communities in Ontario County and writes the Eat, Drink and Be Murphy food and drink column. Follow him on X at @MPN_MikeMurphy.

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