Classic cars to daydream about were there to touch, ride in and take photos with when Jay Cimino opened his home, yard and gardens to benefit Mount Carmel Veterans Service Center.
What fun on June 21 when about 170 guests rocked the Elvis era as the kids from “Grease” came back alive with bobby sox, black leather jackets, piano-keys ties and Pink Ladies.
All around the grounds were awesome vehicles from Cimino’s private collection: Vintage Thunderbirds, Corvettes, Impalas, a Studebaker and a prime 1936 Ford Roadster. It was off-to-the-sock-hops time as costumed guests won test drives around the hilly neighborhood in several of the cars.
Personable 83-year-old host Cimino, president of Phil Long Dealerships and a beloved philanthropist, says he doesn’t have a favorite car in his collection because “they’re all family members.” But a bright blue, one-of-a-kind, 1957 custom Corvette has a special spot in his garage.
Among guests enjoying lots of car memories were those from Cimino’s hometown area of Trinidad, where he and his family are involved in a major redevelopment project and “service to the under served.”
Also close to the Marine Corps veteran’s heart is the local focus of the evening, Mount Carmel Veterans Service Center, where he is board chairman and daughter Gina the co-chair.
He created Mount Carmel to help “fill in the gaps” in services. “We have 140,000 military vets in the region, and we serve just a fraction. They deserve it.” It’s one stop for transition and employment assistance, behavioral health and wellness, support services and a connection to community resources. “Our partners really make it work,” said Cimino. “This is the most giving city.”
Mount Carmel is a family, said Chief Operating Officer Bob McLaughlin. “The day I checked out of the U.S. Army, I joined the Cimino Army. Our veterans ask nothing of us. What do we owe them? Everything.”
During the evening, guests, including the host’s family, savored diner food from that era, visited an ice cream truck, and rock ‘n’ rolled the night away, raising donations toward the $25,000 goal.
“Thank you for coming to my home,” said Cimino. “And for being involved with something so important to us, our veterans.”
Photo gallery: gazette.com/life/around-town