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Car caravan to raise funds for museum

WARREN — July traditionally is one of the National Packard Museum’s busiest months with its annual car show.

More importantly, that car show makes it one of the museum’s most lucrative months.

With the COVID-19 pandemic making mass gatherings of that size impossible, a caravan is planned Saturday to bring in some much-needed revenue after months of closure and limited operations.

“You have to be resilient, you have to be creative, and you have to be flexible,” museum Director Mary Ann Porinchak said.

For the last two years, the museum has included exhibitions organized with Mahoning Valley Corvettes, an organization that includes more than 100 Corvette owners primarily from Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties. Last year’s car show was dubbed the Corvette and Steel Car Show.

Sam Silicia, governor of Mahoning Valley Corvettes, said, “This year we had to cancel (the car show), but we still wanted to do something for Packard.

“I live in Salem, and a lot of people ask me, ‘Why are you so involved with the Packard Museum when you live in Salem?’ We are so fortunate to have Packard in this area. I don’t know whether I adopted them or they adopted me, but I’m hooked on them.”

Cleveland will be the site of the 2021 convention for the National Council of Corvette Clubs, and the National Packard Museum will be one of the tour sites on the schedule.

Both Porinchak and Silicia said that Saturday’s caravan was organized with guidance from the Warren Health Department to comply with current local and state guidelines.

Instead of a traditional car show that brings spectators in to walk around the vehicles, Saturday’s event is designed more as a fundraiser for the museum and geared toward participants.

Drive-up registration will start at 10 a.m. Saturday at Packard Park behind Packard Music Hall and the museum on Mahoning Avenue NW. The cost is $20 per vehicle. The price includes two admission passes to the National Packard Museum valid anytime and dash plaques for the first 100 vehicles.

Drivers will be asked to stay in the cars and wear face masks. Participants will leave Packard Park at 11:10 a.m. and get a police escort as the caravan travels down Mahoning Avenue NW and around Courthouse Square before returning to the park.

Porinchak will lead the procession in the museum’s 1936 Packard 120 convertible, if the weather cooperates. In the event of rain, she’ll ride in a hardtop instead.

If there isn’t a rain cloud in sight, Silicia plans to drive his 1978 Corvette, the official pace car of the Indianapolis 500. It was the first Corvette to pace the Indy 500 as well as the first Corvette with mirrored T-tops, a glove box and a removable arm rest. The vehicle previous owner was Major League Baseball pitcher and former U.S. senator from Kentucky Jim Bunning.

For Silicia to bring out the ’78, the weather will have to be perfect.

“It’s never been washed and never seen rain water,” he said. “The way the weather looks, I’ll bring the ’78 up to Packard.”

If in doubt, he’ll drive his 2003 Corvette pace car edition.

Those rare, pristine vehicles shouldn’t intimidate other participants. While the show has been publicized to Corvette clubs throughout the eastern Ohio region, Saturday’s caravan is open to all makes and models of cars, trucks and motorcycles.

“Anything that has wheels with $20 can be in this caravan,” Silicia said. “That’s more money for Packard.”

Porinchak said, “I just can’t thank the Mahoning Valley Corvettes club enough. They took on the initiative to support us, and feels really good to have their backing.”

agray@tribtoday.com

If you go …

WHAT: Driving Caravan to benefit the National Packard Museum

WHEN: Registration starts at 10 a.m. Saturday with caravan at 11:10 a.m.

WHERE: Packard Park, 1703 Mahoning Ave. NW, Warren

HOW MUCH: The participation fee is $20, which includes a dash plaque for the first 100 vehicles and two admission passes for the museum good anytime. For more information, call 330-394-1899.

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