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Cruise-in to raise funds for veteran food program

Meadville Tribune - 5/16/2024

May 16—The Half Block Rock promises to bring life — and plenty of motorcycles, cars and trucks — to downtown Meadville on Friday evening.

The car and bike cruise-in event, which begins at 5 p.m., will take over a portion of Market Street — about half the block — as well as part of South Street, the alley that runs past Sparks Restaurant & Bar to Cussewago Creek Distillery. Both establishments will offer specials that benefit in a fundraising effort to benefit Military Share, a Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania program aimed at veterans and their families.

"I lost someone close to me that was a veteran," said John Colgrove, the Sparks owner who conceived the event. "A big part of my heart is about helping veterans out."

The event also aims to foster community connections for both businesses, according to Michael Reed, owner of Cussewago Creek.

"He (Colgrove) came to me with this idea of doing a block party that benefits Second Harvest and veterans," Reed recalled Wednesday. "When he told me that, I was all aboard. Anything that benefits our local community, I'm game for."

There's another goal driving the event as well.

"We just want to do something fun," said Shannon Colgrove, John's wife and partner in Sparks.

The fun will include old-school biker games such as the slow ride, a competition to see who can ride 30 yards at the slowest pace without putting their feet on the ground, and the weenie bite, another test of low-speed control in which a motorcycle passenger is tasked with chomping a bite off a hot dog suspended from a string.

Those who hope to win the audio competition for best sound system will have to top John Colgrove and "Knight Prowler," his 2012 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Custom.

The bike, featuring images of skulls reminiscent of the "Ghost Rider" comic book and its name airbrushed on the saddle, was standing outside Sparks on Wednesday as Colgrove blasted the opening strains of Dire Straits' 1985 hit "Money for Nothing" to show its abilities. All 10 speakers quickly drew the attention of passing drivers and pedestrians.

Sparks' location has been home to other restaurants that have not endured over the years, Colgrove noted, so creating awareness through events has been part of their plan since opening in January.

"We're striving to break the mold down here," he said.

YOU CAN GO

The Half Block Rock classic car and bike cruise-in event begins at 5 p.m. Friday at Sparks Restaurant & Bar, 994 Market St., and Cussewago Creek Distillery, 993 Water St. Participation in the cruise-in is free with a recommended $15 donation. The event also features live music from Jay's Classics. Market Street will be closed to traffic from just south of the U.S. Postal Service office parking lot to Pine Street, and South Street will be closed from Market Street to Water Street. In the event of inclement weather, the event will be held Saturday.

Mike Crowley can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at mcrowley@meadvilletribune.com.

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