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Back to the Strip makes welcome return
BTS - Mary Walker Leslie Hayes and Lisa Zavagionnis.jpg
Organizers Mary Walker, Leslie Hayes and Lisa Zavogiannis hold just a small portion of the thousands of cans of food donated during Back to the Strip to benefit Meals on Wheels. - photo by Nikki Childers

Back to the Strip returned Saturday to benefit Meals on Wheels and the public responded with a massive turnout of hotrods and classic cars.

The roads were filled with shiny-bodied trucks, cars and ATVs, both old and new, some dating as far back as the mid-1900s. They cruised for hours with onlookers admiring the restored and souped-up vehicles.

The event was unable to take place last year and was a much-needed balm to a COVID-weary community. 

Some in attendance were reliving memories they had forged years before as teens on this very street. Though the landscape was a little different, Dairy Queen then being known as Ten Pin Market, it served much of the same function and meaning as it does to the youth today.

One such person calling back on memories was Michael Fisher. As a teen, he frequented The Strip like most of his age group did. “I met my wife on The Strip over 27 years ago,” said Fisher. “We just celebrated our 27th anniversary on March the 13.”

This year was different, however, as he had to celebrate it alone, having lost his wife, Peggy Fisher, in December.

“I grew up messing with old cars because of my father,” explained Fisher of his passion for old cars and trucks. “My father was always into old cars and it’s what got me into them. Now my son is enthused with them, too.”

Dale Rogers echoed Fisher’s sentiments as he watched the passing automobiles with his two sons, Abe and Kendal, from the bed of their 1953 Chevrolet truck, complete with 5-speed, S10 transmission and bone stock. “I like to see all these old cars and trucks,” Rogers said. “My sons really like seeing them, too. This truck is actually my son Abe’s.”

The generational appreciation for the vintage vehicles made Back to the Strip the perfect family activity for the three. “I’ve always loved old trucks like this one,” said Abe. 

“Every time he drives it, he says he likes it more and more,” added his brother Kendal. The three were all in agreement that seeing all the fascinating cars and trucks were the highlight of their evening.

The night saw its share of younger generations amid the participants such as Jera Ringemann and Owen Lusk who dropped by before they headed to their prom at Warren County High School. “I was driving earlier in my mom’s 2010 Mercedes Benz,” said Ringemann. “I’ve always really liked cars and it was nice to drive around and see everyone.”

Though the businesses have changed, teens today still frequent The Strip, Ringemann included. “Usually we go to Sonic or the old Foodland parking lot,” said Ringemann, confirming that the tradition of cruising The Strip lives on and will likely continue for many generations.

Organizers revealed in a Facebook post that every shirt and hoodie printed for the event sold – nearly 2,000. Proceeds and donations of canned and non-perishable foods benefit Warren County Meals on Wheels, which helps to feed those who experience food insecurity due to their inability to leave their homes for any number of reasons.