Autofest and street festival returning to Great Neck Plaza

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A sampling of cars from a previous AutoFest and Street Fair. (Photo courtesy of the Great Neck Plaza Business Improvement District)

The 33rd Annual United Capital Corp. AutoFest and Street Festival is coming back to Great Neck Plaza on Sunday, Oct. 15 – and bringing a small fleet of new attractions with it.

Jay Corn, an organizer of AutoFest, said attendance at the festival once peaked at 35,000.  While the event has faced more competition in recent years, Corn said it may speed ahead.

“We’ve held our own and I think this year we’re going to have a bigger turnout than in recent years for a number of reasons,” Corn, the vice president of the Great Neck Plaza Business Improvement District, said in an interview.

One of the big reasons is the presence of several new cars, including David Palter’s 1933 Auburn Boattale Speedster and Howard Kroplick’s 1948 Tucker, one of only 51 ever built.

“Those two cars alone, you’re looking at over $2 million worth of automobiles,” Corn said. “These are really exceptional cars.”

Kroplick, the Town of North Hempstead historian and a collector of antique cars, said the 1948 Tuckers were essentially pilot production cars that were never sold due to a monthslong fraud trial.

At the time though, they were branded as “the car of tomorrow,” featuring three headlights, an advanced engine and an emphasis on safety, he said.

“It’s a fun car to own, and I’d like to share it with people,” Kroplick said.

The 1960s Batmobile will be making a special appearance at this year’s festivities. (Photo courtesy of the Great Neck Plaza Business Improvement District)

There will also be a special guest appearance from the original Batmobile featured in the 1960s “Batman” TV show starring the late Adam West and a host of other vehicles that have not visited Great Neck Plaza.

Corn said the new entries may be coming because of an “in it to win it” contest. Owners of pre-registered cars have a chance to be entered into a drawing, where the first place winner will get $500, while the second and third place winners will get $300 and $200, respectively, Corn said.

“This year, we seem to be getting some new entries that we haven’t seen before,” Corn said.

In addition to the cars, this year’s festival will debut a mini ferris wheel, a rock climbing wall and 50-foot slide. There will also be a daylong performance from dancers at the To The Pointe!-Katya’s Dance Studio, a petting zoo and pony rides.

The Meade Brothers, a local cover band that has played songs from the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival and other classic groups, will also return.

Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender said that whether it is the cars, music, food or family-friendly activities, there will be something for everyone.

“The AutoFest and Street Festival is always a highlight event for our village,” Celender said.

The festival, co-sponsored with the Metropolitan Commercial Bank, will stretch down Middle Neck Road toward Maple Drive, Bond Street and Grace Avenue.

It will run from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 15. The rain date is Sunday, Oct. 22.

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