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Harbor Cruise Marks 50 Years At Park July 10

All Roads To The Point

Dan Salerno is glad the annual Harbor Cruise, which takes place July 10, “keeps going.” Submitted photo

On July 10, the Lake Shore Street Rods will be holding its annual Harbor Cruise at Point Gratiot Park in Dunkirk. But this year’s iteration of the event holds more weight than any previous year, as July 10 will mark the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Lake Shore Street Rod car club.

Somewhere between 400 and 600 cars will be in attendance on that Sunday, based on the turnout of previous years, but it wasn’t always like that. Originally, the club started with a group of seven guys who just really liked cars. Only one of the original members, Dan Salerno, is still alive today, and he never foresaw the club turning into what it has.

“I never thought it would last this long,” said Salerno. “I’m glad it has. I hope after I’m gone, it keeps going.”

As the club and the car shows have gotten bigger over the years, so have the contributions to the community. The proceeds from the Harbor Cruise go to various local charities, currently to Meals on Wheels and Chautauqua County Veterans, and has previously helped fund things like the children’s ward at Brooks Hospital or a children’s resuscitator for the Fredonia Fire Department.

“As it’s gotten bigger, we’ve been doing a lot for the community,” Salerno said. “There’s a lot of money donated from car shows to many different things. We donate every profit we make. We take out our expenses and don’t make a nickel on it.”

While the donations from last year were down due to the fact they had a rainout for the first time ever, Salerno said that somewhere between $7,000 and $8,000 gets donated to those various places.

Salerno, 77, is the one who gave the club its name 50 years ago, and became the last surviving member when his brother died three years ago. Salerno, whose wife died 25 years ago, has used the Lake Shore Street Rods as a way to overcome personal tragedy.

“My kids and my cars have been my life,” said Salerno. “Two of my boys grew up in this and now they’re club members too.”

Salerno mentioned making his hobby a lifestyle, which is fitting considering that Salerno owns 12 classic cars, and is especially fond of his 1932 Ford, which is the car he used for the first Harbor Cruise event.

“I enjoy it and it’s probably why I’ve lasted 50 years doing it,” said Salerno.

Making his hobby a lifestyle has also led to some cool travel experiences for Salerno. Every year, Salerno takes seven other members of the club out to California, where they cruise the coastline, and attend drag races. Salerno calls this the Cali Hot Rod Tour, and it’s one of many things that have connected Salerno and the Lake Shore Street Rods to people all over.

“You make a lot of friends from all over,” he said. “We get people from Canada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and I know five guys from Arizona who come to our car show, then we head out to Syracuse for another show.”

Salerno grew up around cars, having worked in his father’s garage in Silver Creek, as well as Ford Motor Co. and has been able to see the club he helped start with seven members expand to the 60 it has now, while helping raise money for the community and making friends from coast to coast along the way.

Besides classic cars at the noon to 5 p.m. event, there will be a chicken barbecue, 50-50 drawings and music from Yank the Cover Band and DJ Ray.

Sponsors of this year’s event are Shults Resale Center of Dunkirk, Zambotti Collision, Arkwright Printing the ARK Shop, Fredonia Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, and Allegheny-Erie Incorporated. Epoxy Plus floor coatings of Dunkirk has also donated a 400-square-foot garage floor makeover to be raffled off at the event. Proceeds from the event are donated to local charities, with this year’s proceeds going toward the Chautauqua County Veterans and Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels.

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