Vets and their Vettes

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First Posted: 6/10/2013

Corvette owners celebrated their passion for their cars at “Vettes for Vets” on June 9, sponsored by the West Pittston American Legion, Post 542, 1st Lt. Jeffrey DePrimo while raising money for veteran and youth programs.

More than 40 different “Vettes” were proudly displayed as a way for their owners to share their love for these cars with others who have the same interest and to benefit the local veterans organization.

About 200 visitors participated in raffles, enjoyed outdoor grilled food, and eyed up a line of brightly colored Corvettes, with shiny wheels, low-slung profiles, and some with 427-cubic-inch engines putting out more than 500 horsepower. Some were convertibles, some older models, and some right from the showroom floor.

How much do fanciers of the iconic Chevrolet sports car love their cars?

“Driving one is the most fun you can have with your clothes on,” said John Reese of Wilkes-Barre. Reese raced his supercharged Corvette at the Pocono Raceway, Watkins Glen, and Virginia International Speedway and has topped 165 mph.

He has been a Corvette enthusiast for about 15 years and is a regular attendee at the Vettes for Vets event.

Organizer Ron Gitkos, owner of West Side Auto in West Pittston, where the event was held, and commander of the legion post, said Vettes for Vets is the legion post’s largest fundraiser of the year.

The money raised benefits veteran and youth programs in West Pittston and Exeter and helps pay for the Memorial Day parade, Gitkos said. It is also a way to share camaraderie within the community, he said.

Gitkos echoed Reese’s comments about the love Corvette drivers hold for their rides.

“It’s the way they handle,” he said. “Give me a windy road any day.”

He thanked the borough and the other local businesses that help the event go on each year.

For the last two years, Barry Hosier, owner of nearby BQ3 Smokehouse, donated, cooked and served the food for the day.

Hosier estimated that more than 200 visitors enjoyed his barbecue specialties made with his own personal seasoning recipes. He said he wanted to help Gitkos and the American Legion while offering a good time to the Corvette crowd.

Gitkos wanted to make a plea to the local youth about becoming involved in the American Legion. The group is aging and needs some new blood, he said. In his 60s, Gitkos said he is one of the youngest members.

He said anyone interested in becoming involved may contact him at 570.654.2261.