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A Green Flag for Summer

June 12, 2014 Think THF

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Memorial Day, June 1, school letting out. It seems there are plenty of different dates that mark the beginning of summer for some people; the summer solstice on June 21 being far too late.

For me, summer has always begun with the flash of sunshine on chrome-heavy bumpers, the throaty roar of a high-performance engine, and the smell of barbecue tinged with a bit of exhaust – for me, summer begins on June 14 this year, and every year around this time, with our Motor Muster car show in Greenfield Village.

This event is the essence of summertime fun – distilled delight for all the senses. Just as novelist Ray Bradbury in his 1957 classic, Dandelion Wine, described the nostalgic summer wine made by the main character’s grandfather, Motor Muster is “...summer on the tongue...(it’s) summer caught and stoppered.”

Greenfield Village hums with a symphony of purring engines, the toe-tapping beat of Motown music, and cooing words of admiration. Kids are running about, driving their pint-sized pedal cars and racing their very own self-designed pinewood cars. Blue barbeque smoke blends with aqua Chevy Bel-Airs and champagne-tinted Cadillac’s parked on bright green grass. Everyone’s in shorts and flip-flops – except for the re-enactors down by the Cotswold Cottage military camp who look like they just dropped into France during World War II. Gearheads hunch over engines and grandparents smile into shiny hubcaps telling their grandchildren about their first car...nostalgia abounds.

While the event centers on looking back, we at The Henry Ford also think about taking it forward, as our tagline says. What you take forward from Motor Muster is your own making but every year we focus a certain vehicle, brand or make into the spotlight to help you connect the past to the present and take that inspiration to help shape the future.

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For our highlight vehicle this year, we look at the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang. Side by side, every model year of Mustang from 1964 to 1977 will line up on the Village Green, saluting their original two prototype vehicles, Mustang I and Mustang II, featured in our special vehicle tent along with Mustang Serial Number 1, the first Mustang to roll off the assembly line.

How long has it been since you’ve had a good reason to do the twist? How about the Watusi? Maybe you don’t need a good reason (I sure don’t), but if you’ve been anxiously awaiting a chance to swing your arms like a monkey or take a swim on the dance floor, your moment awaits. We’re debuting our own version of the televised teen dance show, so popular in the 1950 and 60’s, to a live audience on the Saturday evening of Motor Muster weekend. Crowds of costumed dancers will shimmy and shake alongside you on the dance floor as we feature live acts and original recordings of some of the best rock and roll dance hits from 1955 to 1963. Dick Clark would be proud...

So, I guess, I suppose it doesn’t matter what date determines the start of summer. Summertime shouldn’t wait for a date – it should begin when the beautiful alchemy of long days, warm weather, fun and excitement come together to form a heady brew, just like Dandelion wine, ready to be savored at an event just like Motor Muster. With that, here’s hoping you’ll visit us this weekend – we’ll save a glass for you...

Greg Harris is Senior Manager of Exhibitions & Program Production at The Henry Ford.

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