Back in 1949, only a few years beyond the end of World War II, parents felt that their high school needed a gym – hard to believe in these days of well-equipped gymnasiums and fields, but there was no gym then.
So the parents got together to raise the money to build a gym. That was the start of the New Hope-Solebury Community Association, an organization that has been raising funds for sports and scholarships for 73 years. The first years featured a horse show, a reflection of the rural area and farms. The gym was completed in 1953.
Charles Renfro and Will Rivinus, sports car owners, with Jim Staats, George Green and John Fetterolf, invited sports cars and antique cars to join the first car show in 1957.
That year, the association raised $70,00, enough money to complete a kitchen, cafeteria and locker rooms for the gym. The main focus since then has been the New Hope Automobile Show, which has attracted thousands to the area year after year.
The auto show, an enormous operation, has counted on participation of other organizations as volunteers. Boy Scouts, New Hope and Lambertville fire companies and ambulance squads, sports teams and businesses have helped with parking, ticket collection refreshment sales and any number of activities.
“It’s all about getting the New Hope-Solebury community involved said association President Dave Hansel last week. He is the former director of operations for the school district, an especially knowledgable person for siting the auto show.
The show has become a Bucks County tradition that has raised over $1.2 million for college scholarships and other community projects and organizations. The association presents up to 12 high school seniors with $1,000 college scholarships.
It’s also acquired 17 acres of land for soccer fields, now known as Pat Livezey Park, on Route 202 in Solebury Township. Named for a longtime director of the auto show, the park was transferred to township ownership in 1995.
And the association has donated to organizations throughout the region, including Fox Chase Cancer Center.
Most recently it has helped to raise $460,000 to create an outdoor track at New Hope-Solebury High School.
With the auto show canceled in 2020 during the covid pandemic, the association created new events like free summer outdoor concerts with local performers the stars and a tennis tournament for 14-16 year-olds. It also aided first responders raising funds to help, especially after the disastrous effects of Tropical Storm Ida.
A far cry from the original horse show, the association has lined up the following activities this year:
• New Hope Automobile Show Cars and Coffee Meetups: 8:30 a.m. May 1 and Aug. 7
• New Hope Summer Concerts: 6:30 to 8 p.m. on the last Thursday of the month, May 26, June 30 and July 28 at the New Hope Solebury Upper Elementary School Parking lot