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Reliving the past at charity car show in Meriden

MERIDEN — For some, it was a family member who introduced them to muscle cars. For others, it was the love of speed and a hark back to their teenage years.

But all who attended the eighth annual Sgt. Jeffrey Boucher Memorial Auto, Bike, and Truck Show Sunday came to support a cause.

The show, held for the first time on Research Parkway, honors Boucher, a former Marine and city police officer killed in a car accident in 2006. This year, the show and the Ultimate Off-Road event were held separately, with proceeds from both going to the Sgt. Jeffrey Boucher Memorial Scholarship fund.

Ray Cox, who sits on the event committee, said he hoped to reach $60,000 in total donations this year.

“It’s just a really good cause,” Cox said, “and a wonderful day for people to get out and show their cars.”

Three hours into the event, Cox said about 200 cars had arrived, and he expected 100 to 200 more.

The cars lined Research Parkway from East Main Street to Pomeroy Avenue — a long row of gleaming, souped-up muscle cars and proud owners.

Dave Harduby, a Wall­ing­ford resident, was polishing up a brand-new Navy blue Chevrolet Camaro.

“I was raised during the muscle car era — I was a little young at the time I guess, but all through high school I worked on muscle cars and it just really brings back a lot of good memories,” he said.

The Camaro isn’t his only Chevy.

“At home I have a ’69 Chevelle that I bought 16 years ago,” Harduby said. He opted to bring the newer car because it needed less “sprucing up” for showing.

A short distance down the row, Cromwell resident Jason Solomonides stood by his 1979 Chevrolet El Camino Royal Knight, chatting with spectators. Unlike Harduby, mechanics didn’t draw Solomonides to restore the muscle car.

The dream, and the car, had originally been his father-in-law’s. But when Richard O’Neal, of Meriden, was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2009, Solomonides promised O’Neal he would finish the job.

“It was a whirlwind,” Solomonides said. “I wanted to get it done soon.”

Solomonides, a Pratt & Whitney engineer, said he knew nothing about car restoration.

“It was really a team effort,” he said. “Mechanics from Meriden, Wallingford, from all over, helped bring this together.”

The effort earned him the title to the car.

“That was just the best feeling,” Solomonides said of showing O’Neal the restored El Camino. “He was just so happy with it, he gave me the title.”

Sunday marked Solomonides’ first time at the Boucher memorial show.

“It’s great for a Sunday drive,” he said. “Although with two-year-old twin daughters, it’s a little tough to take it out.” (203) 317-2279 Twitter: @MollCal

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