GENOA – Joe Hengels of Kingston has owned five Dodge Coronets in his lifetime, but says the 1967 Dodge Coronet 500 he proudly displayed Saturday in downtown Genoa is the nicest.
“It’s a passion. I love this car. It takes a lot of work to put a car back together and it also takes a lot of money,” said Hengels. “I’m going to hang on to this car, and hopefully be buried in it.”
Hengels was one of 150 car and motorcycle owners showing off their vehicles at the inaugural “Cruisin’ to Genoa” Car and Bike Show, coordinated by the Genoa Main Street organization.
Robbie Dobberstein from Malta was also there showing his 1985 Buick LeSabre Hearse, complete with casket. He bought it about six years ago when he was 16.
“I was looking for something unique and I came across a hearse first,” said Dobberstein.
His mom bought the casket at an auction earlier this year for $30.
“Everyone thought she was weird for doing it, but it was my birthday present,” said Dobberstein.
He’s been to three car shows this year, including a hearse show in Lombard that had close to 100 funeral vehicles.
“I’ve had a few people who like it, and then I’ve had a few people who just think it’s sick, disgusting, morbid. I enjoy the reactions I get from people,” said Dobberstein.
Would he want to be buried in his hearse?
“You know, everyone says that: go right in the casket, right in the car, and just drive it into a hole. No, I do not have that [desire], but I have thought of it,” said Dobberstein.
On a more festive note – people strolled through the car exhibits Saturday on the closed-off Main Street in downtown Genoa, while classic music, including such hits as “Leader of the Pack” by the Shangri-Las and “That’s the Way (I Like It)” by K.C. and the Sunshine Band, played through speakers located all down the street.
Darla Woodson from the Genoa Main Street Board, who served as the event chairwoman, was ecstatic.
“This is a fantastic turnout. Everybody seems to be excited about it. They’re enjoying the day and partaking in showing off their pride and joy,” said Woodson.
Woodson said Genoa Main Street shows free movies on Main Street two to three times a year. When members decided to show “American Graffiti,” they came up with the idea to host a car show along with it.
“We just thought it would be fun to do something different that Genoa’s never done before,” said Woodson. “I believe it probably will be an annual event, as long as we can get approval from IDOT and from the city to close the street again.”
Some of the winners of the show included Steve Jones for Best-in-Show Car, Joann Tomlinson for People’s Choice Car, and Glen Stroud Jr. for Best-in-Show Bike. Stroud also won $231 in the 50/50 raffle.
Twenty-four people participated in the Hula Hoop contest, which was judged by Sal Lopez and Hannah Hill, Genoa Days King and Queen. The winners received ice cream donated by Pete’s Castle.
Genoa Pharmacy was the major sponsor for the event, while other sponsors included NAPA Auto Parts, Heartland Bank, Alan Browne Chevy, Tomlinson Exteriors and Jack Godde State Farm.