Chrysler 300 Club International
Hershey, PA

May, 2023

2023 Spring Meet Report

As the Spring National Meet drew near, registrations poured into Meet Registrar (and Board Vice President) Noel Hastalis. Club Treasurer, Gloria Moon had told me that "this is going to be a big meet" and was she ever right. It exceeded everyone’s expectations. Club members quickly gobbled up the block of 60 reserved rooms at the Hershey Marriott Springhill Suites ideally located directly across from the AACA Museum.
Beautiful weather greeted the record crowd as they arrived in Hershey; "the sweetest place on earth" Wednesday afternoon, May 17th. They were greeted by Hank and Allison Hallowell in the lobby of the host hotel. Allison had assembled gift bags for each participant filled with snacks for the days ahead. Hank and Ali had assembled pocket folders which included places to visit, agendas, an explanation of the origin of the town, the Milton Hershey School and surrounding area, and an all important list of auto parts stores close by.

Wednesday night the group was treated to delicious pot roast dinner in the Museum’s upper rotunda complete with all the trimmings, and desert. Hank Hallowell provided a preview of the week ahead.

Thursday the group met in the Lower Rotunda of the Museum for a full tour of the 70,000 square foot facility and an additional behind the scenes tour of the Museum’s 100+ car collection and service bays. The Museum’s curator joined the group and explained the how the volunteers are recruited and the role they play in the operation of the facility.
Next, those that had preordered lunch enjoyed either a roast beef or turkey lunch before traveling 45 minutes to the private Cal High collection in Lancaster County.

The High collection consists of an outstanding group of prewar classics restored to the highest levels. Literally almost every major classic was represented. Mr. High personally lead the group through the building providing an explanation of each car.
Thursday night, following dinner on your own, the Board of Directors hosted a business meeting in the Museum’s meeting room (moved from the hotel due to the size of the group).

Friday dawned clear with continued perfect weather. The group carefully lined up for a drive through some of the most beautiful scenery that the region has to offer. A 45-minute tour through Lebanon Valley farm country and the heart of Pennsylvania’s Dutchland Region ensued with views of the Appalachian Mountain chain to the north and Mount Gretna to the south.
Keeping the chain of 40+ vehicles together, we arrived at Mike Gardner’s restoration shop. The group toured the facility and viewed a variety of projects in various stages. Gardners can do anything that requires repair. Mike and his assistant Jarred started a 1910 Otto that hadn’t run in 40 years. The antique ran beautifully and idled smoothly for the group. Mike made the valves and did a complete valve job on the car for the AACA Museum.

After lunch "on your own", the group had a variety of options including a visit to “Hershey’s Chocolate World,” the nearby manufacturers outlet center, or a series of smaller collections - all at your own pace and within minutes of the host hotel.
At 5:30 the Museum opened its doors and included the 300 Club in the opening of its 20th Anniversary Exhibit. This is an event that occurs twice a year as the Museum changes out its contents in order to keep the visitor's experience fresh. It was a coincidence that it fell during the Meet.

On Saturday morning beginning at sunrise, cars assembled at the “detail shop” entrance of the museum for a car wash and prep for the show ahead. In short order, cars assembled by “letter” on the Museum’s show field. It was an impressive display of a large number of Chrysler 300 Letter Series cars assembled in one location. Every letter car was represented on the field. For me, it was greatest number I had ever seen grouped together. I’ve never seen a dozen Gs in one place.

Interesting too, were the other older Mopars which joined the lettercars on the field: these included a custom built Challenger convertible, ‘61 Newport, ‘60 New Yorker, ‘79 300, ‘57 DeSoto, ‘68 300 among others.
Special thanks to Alex Ruozzi of the RB Collection for giving up his Saturday and bringing their E convertible so that we had each letter on the field.

Saturday night the awards banquet followed and was well attended.

As the meet closed Sunday and goodbyes were shared the group was treated to a “Getaway” breakfast prior to getting off and returning to their respective states...a good time was had by all.

I want to express my thanks for everyone’s patience and understanding during the meet. This was huge turnout, a very large number of cars and folks, and required some extra planning. I want to personally thank everyone for the kind messages and  “Thank You Notes” I have received. It means a great deal.

Special thanks to special people: the Museum staff, especially our curator Stan Sipko, the front desk staff, docents and guides. Thanks to our Vice President and registrar Noel Hastalis who was literally inundated at some points, Rob Kern who kept me focused on tasks, Gloria Moon who wisely counseled me, and John Begian who was there when I needed him. Special thanks also goes to Charlie Valentine who was the first person to volunteer to help me, PJ Ehmann who attended the meet to help me, and my wife Allison, without whom I couldn’t have gotten any of this pulled together...and to folks whose properties we descended upon: Mike Gardener, Cal High, the Millers, and my friends Scott, Tim, Paul and Jim who helped anchor my garages on Friday.

Happily it came together for a big meet, with fun, food, and fellowship for everyone.

Photo credits: Carl Bilter, Keith Boonstra, Bill Elder, Jamie Hyde, Ray Jones,
Mick Kreszock, Noel Hastalis, David Larsen, Bob Merritt, Jeff Miklas,
Gloria Moon, Tony Rinaldi, Caroll Ripley, Stan Sipko, Mark Usciak,
Don Verity, Don Warnaar and Joe Williams.

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