NJMP Vintage Grand Prix and Cumberland County Community Festival
New Jersey Motorsports Park held a vintage festival this weekend and the whole town of Millville was invited. Quite a few citizens showed up too and enjoyed the sights and sounds of vintage race cars courtesy of the Vintage Sports Car Club of America (SCCA).
The weather was perfect with a stiff breeze keeping everyone cool.
In a presentation that touched all who witnessed it, former soldiers from the New Jersey Veterans Home in Vineland, N.J. were treated to a lap of honor and a formal welcome presentation at New Jersey Motorsports Park Saturday. The lap came as part of the New Jersey Vintage Grand Prix Festival, which continued through Sunday, May 30.
Motorcycle riders from Rolling Thunder and Riders of the Lamb motorcycle club escorted the nearly 40 veterans through Vineland and Millville led by members of the Vineland and Millville police departments.
On a sunny, 83-degree day, local residents saluted the veterans as they made their way aboard buses down Delsea Drive in Vineland and into Millville. Once at New Jersey Motorsports Park, the tour continued with a lap of honor around the 2.25-mile Thunderbolt Raceway, with large portions of the circuit lined with cheering and waving racers and fans.
The veterans were touched by the gesture from the community.
"A lot of these guys, when they came back, didn't get a parade - just their walking papers and a 'see ya'," said veteran and resident Rick Toler, who also serves as the President of the Veterans Home Resident Council. "There were people lined up along the street outside of their homes on the way here.
"Then, we get here on a day that God planned with this weather," continued Toler, a Vineland native who served in the Armed Forces for from 1972 through 1994. "People waving and saluting us - I don't know anyone that wasn't choked up by that."
Also participating in the parade were event Grand Marshals Sid Brody and Dottie Cullen.
Paul Berenotto, Vice President of Rolling Thunder, was clear on the reasons the group participates in activities such as this.
"It's the vets," Berenotto said, without hesitation. "It's a payback for everything they've done, and we want to be sure to thank them for that."
Rolling Thunder is a non-profit organization with a goal of educating the public of the fact that many American prisoners of war were left behind, and to help American veterans of all wars.
The event was also a part of the Cumberland County Community Festival at the track, where bands played and fans were treated to vendors and free ice cream featuring Limpert Brothers dessert ingredients throughout the day on Saturday.
More than 40 vendors, from food vendors to local businesses and organizations, have spaces to visit and collect information. Most activities were included in the price of admission to the Cumberland County Community Festival during the New Jersey Vintage Grand Prix Festival.