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Berwick Apple Capital Evening Drive transports visitors back in time with vintage autos

Ford Model T enthusiast and Apple Capital Evening Drive organizer John Eaton of Somerset behind the wheel of his 1923 Canopy Express.
Ford Model T enthusiast and Apple Capital Evening Drive organizer John Eaton of Somerset behind the wheel of his 1923 Canopy Express. - Kirk Starratt

BERWICK, NS - It will be like travelling back in time with era music, period costumes and drives around town in vintage automobiles.

The sixth annual Apple Capital Evening Drive takes place on July 11 with an afternoon drive for seniors at the Grand View Manor complex from 2 to 4 p.m. and the event for the public taking place at the Apple Capital Museum at 173 Commercial St. from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The automobiles involved all pre-date the Second World War. Admission is a freewill donation in support of the museum.

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Organizer John Eaton of Somerset, a vintage auto enthusiast who owns four Ford Model T’s, said the genesis of the evening drive was an educational night held once a month at the Apple Capital Museum. He arranged for a few vintage autos to be there and a lot of people turned out to see them. There was also a presentation on Henry Ford and the early days of automobiles.

The event has grown every year since its inception. Since the second year, they’ve been visiting the Grand View Manor complex in the afternoon. This began with a request from administrators to send a couple of cars there. Eaton said the visit to the complex is very pleasing to the clients, who are given the chance to go for a nostalgic ride or simply sit and watch the parade of vintage autos.

“One lady who was close to 100 said, ‘my daddy used to have one of those,’” Eaton said. “They say it’s a fairly important social event for them in the summertime.”

He said the number of vintage autos taking part would depend largely on the weather. In the past, on sunny days, they’ve had as many as 40. They come from all over Nova Scotia and some from New Brunswick and PEI.

Volunteers with stools act as footmen, helping people in and out of the vintage cars. The Town of Berwick now closes Mill Street for the event to provide a safe area for people to load and unload. Volunteers from the Berwick Fire Department are stationed at street corners to help ensure safe passage for the vintage cars.

There will be bands playing period music and everybody gets an ice cream sundae. The Berwick and District Lions Club now holds a fun fair featuring period games in conjunction with the evening ride. The game tickets are free and there are prizes to be won. Visitors are also offered tours of the museum.

Last year, they had approximately 90 people dressed in period costume for the evening drive, thanks to the support of CentreStage Theatre and coordinator Debbie Gillis. Eaton said they call them street strollers and they add ambiance and colour to the event. There will be footmen and street strollers at Grand View Manor as well.

“This year, we have restaurants on board for after hours,” Eaton said. “We sort of call them our speakeasies, as in the prohibition era.”

He said the people there would also be dressed in period costumes. The establishments will be putting on special menus and staying open a little later than usual.

Kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

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