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In Garden City, Easter Sunday is ‘opening day’ for vintage car enthusiasts

Julia Noulis, of Ridge, puts on makeup in

Julia Noulis, of Ridge, puts on makeup in the back of her son Chris' 1975 Buick during the 58th Annual Easter Sunday Vintage Car Parade, presented by the Garden City Chamber of Commerce on Sunday. (March 31, 2013) Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

If there was a “Queen of Easter” at the 58th annual Vintage Car and Parade Show in Garden City, Julie Noulis might be it.

Instead of a crown, the 84-year-old Ridge resident wore her signature handmade bonnet, which features plastic eggs, fake flowers and nine stuffed toy bunnies.

Noulis turned heads with her 12-inch-high headpiece Sunday as she rode in her son’s 1975 Buick Lesabre convertible for the 58th annual vintage car parade.

“I love my son’s car, I love riding in it, and I love going through the streets,” said Noulis, who tossed stuffed toy bunnies to kids along the parade route. “I love seeing the look on their little faces.”

Julia’s son, Chris Noulis, 50, of Nesconset, joked, “She thinks she’s the queen of the show.”

Noulis, who owns six classic vehicles, was one of the hundreds of collectors who displayed vehicles in this year’s show, which is sponsored by the Garden City Chamber of Commerce. He arrived around 9 a.m. to secure a good spot in the large parking lot along Franklin Avenue, where the cars were exhibited for most of the morning and early afternoon. Then, at 1 p.m. nearly 1,000 people gathered on Franklin and Seventh Street to watch the automobiles make their way down the parade route. The driver’s revved the engines, sounded the horns and tossed candy to the kids.

“I love all the colors of the old cars,” said Linda Sardone, of West Hempstead, who has been coming to the parade with her husband, John, for more than 10 years. “Each one is so unique. It’s very enjoyable.”

Some of the drivers dressed in period clothes to match their cars. Others wore Easter bonnets or bunny ears. Then, there was Karen Horowitz, of East Northport, who dressed up all three of her dogs, which rode with her and her husband, Michael, inside her 1972 Buick convertible.

“This is the first time she’s out for the winter,” said Horowitz of her car.

That was the case for many of the vehicles in the parade, as the Garden City show is considered “opening day” for Long Island car enthusiasts.

“It’s the first show of the year. Everything is coming out of hibernation,” said Rusty Becker, 56, of Glen Head. “You see a huge cross section, tons and tons of cars you don’t see many other places, and the fact that you get to drive through the crowd is great.”

Becker recalled attending the Easter car show in Garden City with his father when he was a child. Back then, the show consisted of only about a dozen cars parked on the lawn of the Garden City hotel.

On Sunday, Becker’s grandsons -- Ethan Dember, 8, and Gavin Dember, 5, of Cliffwood, N.J. -- rode in the 1951 Chevy half-ton pick-up truck that he restored along with his wife, Debbie Dugan, 51.

“This is the first one we ever actually took all the way apart … down to the last nut and bolt, and rebuilt,” he said. “I would never sell this car. We’ll have this until I’m too old to work the clutch, and then we’ll make a lawn ornament out of it.”

The parade has also been a part of Garden City native Colin Stewart’s Easter Sunday for as long as he can remember. It was a tradition he passed on to his two children -- Mary, 4, and Finn, 2 -- who were both jumping up and down with excitement as the vehicles drove by.

“Any type of parade they love,” added Stewart, 39. “Mary loves to get dressed up, no matter what the occasion and … Finn loves cars. That’s what he’s all about.”

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