Labor Day came to Coral Bay quietly, with a promise of disappointment. A big car show was promised for Moravian Church Field at the corner of Centerline and 107.
Two guys, the promoters, waited patiently, along with their crew. A hurricane hijacked people’s attention and the promoters started to think this would be the third year the Love City Car Show would come and go modestly.
Then around noon, they came. Shiny cars, vintage cars, custom rides looking good inside and out. The field filled up with rolling works of art from St. Thomas and St. John.
By 2 p.m., the field was alive with drivers and mechanics. Promoter Jay Swartley counted 39 cars, trucks and one motorcycle, including three Ford Mustangs, a Volkswagen bug and a BMW.
That was better than the first day of the two day car show, when two dozen vehicles and three bikes showed up.
After that, more cars, more bikes rolled in. A red roadster sporting one wheel in front, two in the back. A customized ride in Virgin Islands blue, white and gold. There was an eagle with a banner on the front.
Many of the rides sat with their hoods propped up. According to Lemuel Liburd, winner of the 2016 interior competition, a polished car has more than just a pretty face.
A lot of work goes into making a gleaming engine, to draw the envy of fellows who love to get under the hood.
Bobby Fleming also popped the hood on his 1986 Chevy truck. It was a working truck, he said, that he bought for $500. The interior was simple, neat, with a coat of red paint on the inside and the engine block.
“I’ve had it for four year. No fancy changes, I just dressed it up a little bit,” he said.
In the next spot over, Austin Thomas had some other ideas. He added a custom grill to the front of his 1992 pickup, giving it a 1950s feel.
On the rim of the grill sat a tiny replica, painted the same.
“It was all done on St. Thomas. The painter – they call him Trash, best paint man on St. Thomas. It comes in a kit, the hood and the front. It comes as a conversion,” he said.
And in this world full of mutual admiration, Thomas explained his Chevy truck’s Mini Me.
It was for a friend, someone who is always asking if they can borrow the car, he said.
Other motorists and friends gathered in the shade at the edges of the field, admiring each other’s entries and chatting. A deejay pumped some Jam Band tunes into the air.
Children at the car show got lost in the chase as computer technician Daryl Wade displayed his drone collection. He playfully hovered them overhead.
Another model collector let remote roadsters go on the field with half a dozen feet in hot pursuit. Less energetic children made themselves happy loading mini Hot Wheels into a sloping track.
By the end of the second day, the crowd of admirers grew. Local spectators lined up along the roadway, peering across the fence.
The sound system contest gave each driver a chance to show off the woofers, the tweeters and the thumping base. No one blasted their sounds, giving the crowds a chance to appreciate what each feature could do to enhance the music.
Swartley’s wife, Athena, stood by a table full of trophies, making names on a clipboard. Last year, car show organizers shared a portion of their proceeds with a local non profit. There was a chance that the popularity of the 2017 show might produce enough to help a charity or two, she said.