If absence makes hearts grow fonder, spectators at Laurel's 36th Independence Day parade kicking off at Sixth and Montgomery on July 5, should be excited to see the return of vintage cars to the celebration.
Dan Sivley and his wife, Sharon, will be cruising their cherry red 1964 Ford Galaxie 500 XL in the parade prior to joining other registered participants showing off their cars on the field at Granville Gude Park.
Sivley, who lives in Beltsville, served as co-chair on the car show planning committee since the late Ralph Howard first organized the show in 2001. He said the show, which attracted customers to the festival in Granville Gude Park, grew from 20 cars to almost 100 in 2012.
But then, when Sivley stepped back from organizing the car show in 2013 after a dozen years, the car show's future looked bleak. Sivley said the Laurel Fourth of July committee couldn't find a successor — and so there were no vintage cars.
Without cars in last year's parade or at Gude Park afterward, many spectators expressed disappointment, including Laurel Mayor Craig Moe, who said he feels the show attracts more people to the rest of Laurel's Independence Day events.
The mayor went to Sivley shortly after the 2013 celebration to ask about a return of the vintage cars. “I told him I was working on it,” Sivley said.
“Working on it” meant Sivley recruiting his friend and fellow car guy Mike Templeton to serve as co-chairman of the car show with him.
“When Dan asked me if I could revive the car show, I said, ‘Sure,'” said Templeton, who installs emergency vehicle lighting packages and tracking/navigation systems in police cars and repairs hot rod for a living.
The two men share a passion for antique cars. Templeton's 1956 Chevy Belair convertible is almost the same shade of red as Sivley's Ford Galaxy, and the friends often attend the same car shows and meets in the area.
Templeton, of College Park, who does all his own work except for the painting, said he likes the car restoration show “Fast 'N Loud” on the Discovery Channel. His girlfriend, MaryAnn Beauchamp, of Adelphi, records the show for him while he's working; and they frequently take Beauchamp's father, octogenarian and World War II veteran Fred Beauchamp, to car show events.
Templeton has driven his Belair for close to 40 years, and he said it's seen drive-in movies, street racing and hundreds of car shows.
“Life is stressful enough,” Templeton said. “When you're around cars, you can just chill out.”
Dan and Sharon Sivley bought their Canadian-built Ford Galaxy site unseen, except for pictures, in 2000. Nicknamed the “money pit,” their Galaxy has also seen hundreds of car shows, and Sivley said he has a 1971 GM Sprint at home that he's in the process of renovating, as well.
Sharon Sivley, who helps her husband organize the Laurel Independence Day car shows, said that there's so much antique and collector car activity in the area “you could take the cars out every day of the week.”
Every Sunday between 8 and 11 a.m., the Sivleys and Templeton meet casually with up to about 300 other vintage car owners to network at what Sivley and Templeton call the “Church of the Holy Donut” (named for the Dunkin Donuts that's been torn down) in the Burtonsville Shopping Center parking lot near Roy Rogers.
Templeton said that anyone needing anything done to his or her vintage car can find the right contact there, and Sharon Sivley said she has spotted Laurel Police Chief Rich McLaughlin frequently strolling through.
Templeton is a members of the Sons of American Legion at Laurel Post 60. The squadron is the primary sponsor of this year's car show and will host its own car show in the post's parking lot at the east end of Main Street in August.
Sivley and Templeton said that clubs such as the Maryland Chevelle Club, Asphalt Angels, High Rollers and Ocean City Cruisers have been enthusiastic about participating in past Laurel Independence Day celebrations and are expected to return.
How to participate
Car owners who want to drive their vintage cars in the parade (whether or not they want to be on display at Gude Park) can register at 9 a.m. on July 5 in the parking lot behind McCullough field at Eighth and Montgomery Streets, where the parade lineup will be.
Car show participants can register after 11 a.m. on Mulberry Street between the Lowe's and Holiday Inn Express; there is a $15 fee. All registrations and payment must be submitted in person on July 5. Registration proceeds help support the 2014 Laurel Independence Day celebration.
The first 70 car owners to register in the show will receive commemorative dashboard plaques. Show participants will judge the 25 most popular cars and award trophies to their owners.
For more information, contact Mike Templeton at 443-336-3700.