Cumberland Times-News

October 27, 2012

Unexpected British guest was one highlight of auto show

To the Editor:
Cumberland Times-News

— The 2012 Toys for Happiness campaign got off to a fine running start with the Wheels for Happiness auto show hosted by the Fire and Ice Rods & Customs organization.

The lawn of the Festival Grounds at Canal Place was blanketed by cars, trucks and cycles of all shapes and colors on Oct. 13. Gorgeous Chamber of Commerce weather greeted participants and spectators — and happenstance visitors, including a young lady from London..

She — Toni Adams — was headed for the train station for a ride on the scenic railroad when she, by her own admission, was sidetracked by the music being performed on the stage by the Strangers With Candy band, and by the varied assortment of vehicles parked in front of that stage.

Seeing an opportunity, we asked Toni to select her favorite auto, and to present our “Lady’s Choice” award to it during closing ceremonies.  Happy to participate, Toni went beyond her obligation, heaping praise on our community for its beauty and the kind reception she’d received during the couple of days she’d been here. It was a shame to watch her depart, but the train was loading; she’d have been an excellent master of ceremonies — an even better ambassador.   

That chore, though, was ably handled by our special guest for this occasion; “Fast Jack” Beckman and his family — wife Jenna, son Jason and daughter Layla — contributed a few hours of their tightly-packed weekend stay to assist our “Toys” program.   

Here primarily to visit relatives, Jack — as he has in past years — posed for photos and signed anything and everything handed to him, and a couple of items not easily detached, such as the dash in Rocky Stafford’s 1932 Ford coupe.   

A record holder in the National Hot Rod Association’s Funny Car Class, Jack currently leads the pack in the chase for the points championship.

The chance to re-acquaint ourselves with our friend from California was certainly a prime reason for our event’s success; the large turnout of vehicle owners and spectators provided a grand boost for our 2012 Toys for Happiness program.   

Now, Jack’s gone — back to his racing challenges — but the need for support for our “Toys” effort continues. Over 2,200 area children will be served this Christmas season, and your assistance will assure the project’s success.

We Fire and Icers, long time volunteers, will bring our cars and trucks from storage for our repeat appearance at the downtown Tree Lighting Ceremony on Black Friday in November.

We invite readers to attend — and to bring an unwrapped toy or gift for a child age 15 or younger along. We’ll accept it and deliver it to Santa. I suspect the lights will burn brighter as a result of your kindness.

Allen Haines

Fire and Ice representative

Toys for Happiness volunteer