Revving up support for students

East Rockaway car shows bring normalcy, fund scholarships

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After the coronavirus pandemic wiped out a summer tradition in East Rockaway last year, the Kiwanis Club car shows have roared and rumbled back, helping the village return to a sense of normalcy.

The shows began more than a decade ago when car enthusiast Rich Cittadino started them to bring the village together during the summer. Cittadino recently retired and moved out of East Rockaway, and the Kiwanis Club has taken over the tradition as a fundraiser for community service projects to continue its goal of “changing the world one community at a time,” President Michaelene Abbott Cooper said.

“It’s definitely a very special time for the East Rockaway Kiwanis Club to go from friends to family,” Abbott-Cooper said of having a weekly in-person activity. “It takes all of the active club members to make the night a weekly success.”

Over the years, the car shows have supported many nonprofits, including Mended Little Hearts, which supports children, families and caregivers affected by congenital heart defects; the Little St. Nick Foundation, an East Rockaway-based group that provides hospitalized children with gift bags to reduce anxiety; Camp ANCHOR, a Town of Hempstead program for children and adults with special needs; and the East Rockaway Education Foundation, which raises funds for school programming. This year’s proceeds will fund Kiwanis Club high school scholarships, among other projects.

Abbott-Cooper described the Monday night outings as “two and a half hours of action-packed entertainment,” as attendees peruse classic and vintage cars and enjoy one another’s company. Each car owner gives a $3 donation to participate. Abbott-Cooper said the shows average about 40 cars per night, which are displayed in a parking lot on Main Street east of the post office. This year, the shows will run every Monday night through Aug. 30. Car owners arrive with their vehicles each week at 4 p.m., and the free viewing of them lasts from 6 to 8 p.m.

Additionally, DJ Kenny Kojak plays classic and oldies songs, sponsored by Collision Depot of Oceanside, and local business Villa Maria provides car-side food delivery. There are also weekly raffle prizes from local businesses, including Flowers By Mike, with Oceanside and East Rockaway locations. Owner Mike Graham also provides flowers every other week.

East Rockaway Mayor Bruno Romano described the shows as “extremely successful,” and said Cooper and the Kiwanis Club have worked hard to bring the car shows back.

“The Kiwanis Club was able to bring a new dimension to this weekly event and has proven to attract more visitors,” he said. “We welcome everyone to come down to the waterfront area every Monday to enjoy a nice dinner at one of our wonderful waterfront restaurants and enjoy this fantastic car show, or perhaps even show your car.”

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