Beloved car cruise returns for a fifth year

Newton. Starting on April 30, the parking lot in front of Friendly’s will host the weekly Rodfather Gang of Car Club’s cruises.

| 19 Apr 2022 | 04:19

Starting April 30th and continuing every Saturday until October, the parking lot in front of Friendly’s will become a cornucopia of color, bling and pizzazz.

Fifty’s, sixty’s and seventy’s music will resonate through the air as the fifth season of the weekly Rodfather Gang Car Club’s cruises begin. It’s all about the cars, and there are some beauties. They’re vintage, so their colors and shapes are unique, wheels/tires something you don’t see every day, electronics and exquisitely mastered suspensions are on display, and interiors are something to behold.

“We welcome antique cars, classics, exotics, hot rods, rat rods, trucks, bikes and future collectables,” said club member Vin De Peppo who showcases his 1936 Aurburn Bowtail Speedster at the cruises.”

Something new this year is a partnership with an electric car club which will be coming to the kick off cruise. There may even be a Mustang Mach-E on site which, according to De Peppo, is Ford’s first electric vehicle.

Alan Arduini has been a member of The Rodfather Gang for four or five years and proudly brings his 1971 Baby blue Ford Mustang convertible with a black roof to the cruises.

“I love this group and was glad to join after meeting Vinnie and Jack [Calvert],” he said. “The cruises are a great opportunity to socialize with people who also love cars, hang out, see other people’s cars and shoe them yours.”

Among other responsibilities in the club, Jay Villaverde is in charge of social media and enjoys bringing his lime green 2019 Dodge Challenger to the shows

“I handle the Facebook and all that,” he said. “We’re itching all winter for the cruises to begin and can’t wait until April 30. We’re looking to expand this year which is going to be great.”

Club member Jack Dixon brings his 1929 Ford Model A to the cruises and has been involved for four years.

“It’s great companionship and a whole lot of fun,” he said.

Jeff and Cheryl Rauscher are relatively new to the club, having joined two years ago.

“They do all kinds of little things that no one knows about that are vital to the club,” said club president Jack Calvert. .

The couple own a 1965 Nova and a 1971 C10 which they are in the process of restoring.

“We used to bring our daughter’s Junior Dragster to the cruises,” Cheryl Rauscher said. “We also used to race cars at Island Drag-way in Great Meadows. Now we put our efforts into helping out with these cruises and have a great time doing this.”

Calvert zinc yellow 1969 Mercury Cougar XR7 with a saddle tan interior and burled walnut wood grain steering wheel can be seen weekly at the cruise.

“This club is about the few that do the work of many,” he said. “Most of us are self-employed. You have to have that discipline. There’s a lot to do to prepare, but it’s so rewarding when you see everything fall into place at the cruises.”

Club members gather gift cards throughout the year and have made some great connections with countless local businesses who donate as well as some corporations.

“You wouldn’t believe how many local businesses are so eager to donate each and every week,” De Peppo said. “We’re very thankful for them.”

Displaying your ride at the cruise simply entails showing up and purchasing a dash plaque for $10. Don’t have a classic car? There’s no charge for spectators to come and see these stunning automobiles.

The one and only “Captain Kirk” is the the DJ at the cruises who spins tunes and keeps the throw-back vibe going.

“I met the gang through Mary Jean [Negri],” Captain Kirk (aka Kirk Kaudell) said. “The cruises are great fun and people really enjoy hearing the old-time music.”

Negri owns the Friendly’s in Newton and the one in Wantage. The cruise started when her daughter, Anastasia, who runs the Newton site, approached the group about doing a cruise in front of Friendly’s after their old venue was no longer available. The rest was history.

Glen Hric helps with set up and close down of the cruises among other things. He brings his 1951 Ford Pickwick truck to the events.

“I just love this and I root for no rain on Saturdays,” he said.

The cruise takes place in front of Friendly’s in the parking lot in the center of Newton every Saturday Gift cards are given to those who answer trivia questions correctly.

“We are a non-political, autonomous group with socialization, good music and great food,” De Peppo said. “We would not be able to provide these cruises without the permission from the Martin family, who are our great supporters.”

The DJ starts at 2 pm, but folks start arriving around noon to get their spots and set up. The cruises usually wrap up at dusk.

For further information, call 973-383-6035. You can find The Rodfather Gang Car Club on Facebook as well.