NEWINGTON - More businesspeople than ever before met at a Berlin Turnpike landmark this week to share in summertime fun.
Turnpike Motors welcomed visitors from at least eight different communities Tuesday at its annual Multi-Chamber Vendor Appreciation Night. Chambers of Commerce from Newington, New Britain, Wethersfield, Rocky Hill, Avon, West Hartford and the Connecticut River Valley, which includes Glastonbury and East Hartford, attended.
The auto body shop is a member of all of these organizations, so Controller Marty Smith treats the gathering as an opportunity to thank everyone.
Smith was amazed to see the number of people and exotic cars that showed up for the event, now in its 12th year.
“It’s absolutely crazy,” she said. “There are more cars than ever before and people from all walks of life.”
Drawing the most attention were exotic cars brought in for the occasion, valued at millions of dollars. In addition to the photo ops and eye candy they provided, the cars served double-duty in raising awareness for the 19th annual Dream Ride Experience to benefit Special Olympics and The Hometown Foundation.
Turnpike Motors sponsors the upcoming event, set for Aug. 23-25 at the Farmington Polo Grounds. It was started by Bozzuto’s Inc. and has raised over $9.7 million since the inception. The three-day festival is a celebration of Special Olympics athletes, families and volunteers, with a police-escorted Dream Cruise and Show, carnival, live music, basketball tournament, chili cook-off and more.
“Being the type of business we are we pull from many different markets so this event gives us a chance to get everyone together and introduce them to the charity organizations we support, including the Dream Ride and Special Olympics,” customer service manager Daniel Hovey said.
Dog Star Rescue was also on-site. This nonprofit animal advocacy organization rescues dogs across the state and many from the southern U.S. as well. Representatives were on hand to talk to visitors about the work they do.
Plainville resident Chris Bartlick is the office manager at the nearby State Farm Insurance office, which works closely with Turnpike Motors on many occasions.
“I’m here to see all these beautiful cars,” Bartlick said, looking around at the variety of treasures on display.
Klingberg Family Centers Vice President Mark Johnson sat inside a 1914 Model T Ford Depot Hack, the oldest vehicle owned by the centers. He spoke with guests about about Klingberg’s Auto Restoration Program, which provides over 100 local teens with a unique vocational opportunity.
Visitors mingled around the large parking lot, enjoying a barbecue feast catered by Stew Leonard’s and the New York Pickle Deli. Live entertainment came courtesy of the Ian Biggs Band and WMRQ, Radio 104.1.
Newington Chamber Executive Director Peter Forcellina took some time to talk with other chamber representatives.
“We have some crossover in the businesses we support and it’s always helpful for us to be supportive of each other,” he explained. “I’m looking for all of our chambers to do well.”
Alex Nowicki, an employee of Army Barracks, spread the word about upcoming sales at the surplus store, located directly across the road from Turnpike Motors.
Spreading awareness was the mission of many attendees, including Cindy Marsella, a member of the Simsbury Chamber. She works with DoTERRA Essential Oils.
“Essential oils are an alternative health care,” Marsella said. “Being out here and giving people samples they can experience the benefits for themselves.”
Turnpike Motors is now celebrating its 50th year in business and recently completed a renovation of its facility.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.