Can old cars here bring us a brighter future?
Henry J. Ford watched as the 15 millionth and last Model T rolled off the assembly line at the Highland Park Ford Plant on March 26, 1927.
On Saturday, seven members of the Nitro Antique Car Club will attempt to top that at the Eighth Annual Rod Run and Doo Wop on Kanawha Boulevard.
"We're going to take a pile of rusty parts, and in under five minutes, we're going to build a running, driving Model T Ford," Jim Winter, vice president of the Rod Run, told the Gazette's Bill Lynch.
Their effort is part of the future of Charleston.
The annual show attracts 1,000 cars a year. Owners from 12 states and Canada registered ahead of the event this year. The event attracts thousands of people, not just the gearheads.
The car show gives the city a chance to show itself off to thousands of visitors as a possible place to work and live in. Haddad Riverfront Park and Magic Island are beautiful venues, but it is the hospitality of the people of the city that will close any deal.
Often discussions on the future of West Virginia
focus on keeping young people here.
But young people will leave their home state to strike out on their own no matter where they grew up. Look at the president; he left the beaches of Hawaii for the winters of Chicago.
The key to the future is to make the state attractive to people in other states, and the Rod Run helps do that by showing that life here is not all beautiful hills and gorgeous rivers.
Of course, when the organizers first discussed putting on a four-day classic car show, they likely were not thinking of the long-term future of the city.
They were thinking of old cars. Studebakers. Packards. Model Ts.
Their passion for cars makes this event a success.
To be sure, this weekend's Rod Run and Doo Wop will clog traffic in the city as if it were rush hour before the interstates criss-crossed the Valley.
Oh to have a town so bustling that traffic is a problem.
However, Charleston can and will get there again. Events like this help. The organizers and volunteers deserve a big thank-you.