AUGUSTA — Fran Senecal wasn’t planning to take Stella to the Augusta Civic Center parking lot Saturday until she read an article in the Kennebec Journal talking about a car show.
Stella is Senecal’s 1966 Volkswagen Beetle, and the classic car was one of nearly 100 at the Maine’s Finest event to raise money to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey.
“We weren’t going to do any more car shows, but my son lives across the border in Louisiana,” Senecal said. “I can’t even imagine what those people are going through, and we feel really bad for them.”
Aaron Perry, one of the organizers, said everybody knows someone or has purchased parts or other items from somebody from Houston, so the event was a no-brainer.
“I was very anxious about how many people were going to show up, but it looks like we’re going to have quite a turnout,” Perry said a little before the event’s 2 p.m. start. He said he was hoping to raise about $1,000 from the sale of raffle tickets and other donations, and after about 40 minutes, the group crossed the $1,000 mark.
“This is insane,” he said.
Cars of many makes and models were lined up across the parking lot, everything from a 1955 Ford Fairlane and a 1949 MG TC to supercharged Mustangs, Volkswagens, Chevrolets and Hondas. There was even a newer-model Aston Martin and a Porsche.
“We have a friend who’s into cars, and it’s a perfect day for a great cause, so here we are,” said Tommy Watson, who came from Falmouth with his wife and two children. “When you think about the devastation and destruction in Houston, it makes you appreciate days like today.”
Perry said they’d give away prizes – including gift cards, car cleaning kits, a power drill and a $100 tattoo certificate – later in the afternoon. There also would be a 50/50 raffle, and Perry said often the winner of that turns around and donates his or her 50 percent of the pot to charity.
In addition to collecting donations and selling raffle tickets, the club was selling decals that said “#207HelpingHouston,” which were created, produced and donated by Fat Kid Graffix. Those proceeds will also go to the American Red Cross.
Watson said his children, a teenage son and 8-year-old daughter, enjoyed looking at the older cars as much as at some of the newer vehicles. His son, who graduated from high school last year and attends the University of Rhode Island, told his father he wanted the nearly $60,000 special edition yellow Mustang GT.
“If he wins the lottery or moves somewhere near the Autobahn in Europe, then he can have a car with more than 600 horsepower,” Watson joked. “Until then, he’ll be happy with his Subaru and its all-wheel drive.”
Last year, Perry said, Maine’s Finest did a charity cruise from Portland to Waterville that collected more than $2,000 worth of toys for the Home for Little Wanderers. He hopes to do a bigger cruise event before Thanksgiving this year.
As people passed by the 51-year-old beige VW Beetle – Stella – Senecal and her husband smiled and chatted with anyone who had a question.
“This event was too important to not bring Stella out of the garage,” Senecal said. “I talked to her, and she said she was happy to be here.”