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Bridget Wingert: Happy to Be Here

Happy to Be Here: New name for a long-established group


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

• The Steve Buck-Hardy Bush Golf Tournament 9 a.m. June 24 at Makefield Highlands Golf Course. The tournament is named for a former basketball coach (Buck) and a former township supervisors and president of the community association (Bush).
• The 13U Youth Baseball Tournament: June 24-26 at New Hope Solebury School baseball fields
• Youth Tennis Tournaments: July 9-10 and August 6-7 at New Hope Solebury School tennis courts
• New Hope Automobile Show: August 13-14 at the New Hope Solebury High School Parking Lot
“The New Hope Automobile Show is just one example of how the association works with other groups to help achieve its goals,” said Gary Karlsrud, board vice president. “Over the years, the community association has continuously looked for ways to enhance its current activities and create new ways to raise funds for community projects.”
It’s added the auto road rally that lets drivers and their navigators follow clues that take them on a two-hour drive through Bucks County that ends at a local eating establishment and Cars and Coffee, a Sunday morning event when car enthusiasts could bring their favorite car, truck or motorcycle, grab a cup of coffee and talk cars.
Times have changed and the community association has realized that is mission has grown. “We’re realizing how different we’ve become,” Karlsrud said. That includes helping a condo board group that wants to plant flowers to helping people move after a flood.
The scholarships are the primary focus but that’s only part of what the association does. “We do things that relate to sports, culture, music – lots of good stuff,” Karlsrud said. “It’s fun.”
“We’re doing things for education and we’re doing things to the community in times of need,” Hansel said.
Now the organization – after 73 years – is changing its name to reflect what it does. The group has been considering a name change for some time: the covid pandemic, with a new focus on events accelerated the change.
Yesterday, March 30, the association activated its new website, New Hope Helping, because helping is what it does.
And events New Hope Helping stages will continue on its mission to continuously help the community.
If you’d like to get involved, call 215-862-5665.

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