The Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida, hosts yet another Annual Vintage Weekend in grand style.
Having celebrated its 19th year this past December, the Annual Vintage Weekend is one of those must-attend events for admirers of classic conveyances by water, land and air. The private Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida, makes an exception to its members-only policy for this yearly four-day event held the first weekend in December and welcomes non-members to stay at the resort Inn with the additional purchase of an event ticket. It’s a rare treat to have access to the posh club’s 2,500-acre oceanfront location, which includes two championship golf courses, shops, restaurants, an airfield, and 175-slip marina just steps away from the Inn.
“Vintage Weekend was originally started to attract people to the resort on a traditionally slow weekend prior to the December holidays. Three Ocean Reef members each had an interest in vintage collectibles and attended events in other parts of the country, so they invited attendees to attend ours,” says Molly Carroll, Ocean Reef Executive Director of Communications. “This year we had more exhibitors than in the last few years, and we encourage people to register early starting in February for the December event.”
This was the first such event for Frank Gallagher, who brought his 1947 Piper Super Cruiser airplane. Based in Valkaria, Florida, Frank heard about the event through his membership with the Florida Cub Flyers Club. “I’m very impressed with Vintage Weekend’s good organization and how welcoming the staff is,” says Frank, who promises he’ll be back again in 2014.
Following the Thursday evening welcome party, Friday kicked off with a road rally of some of the vintage cars to Alabama Jack’s for lunch, a notorious and notable roadside haven for cold beer, conch fritters and all things deep-fried. Afternoon shopping and sangrias back at the Ocean Reef Fishing Village were a hit, as was the poolside reception Friday evening, where guests were entertained by mermaids in the pool and greeters costumed in Hollywood-inspired apparel, some of whom suspiciously resembled resort staff.
The 2013 Vintage Weekend fleet of cars, planes and boats totaled 128, including the oldest, a 1911 28′ Sterling boat. A return visitor—the 1949 37′ Rybovich Legend owned by Larry and Lynne Mullins—holds distinction as the oldest Rybovich still afloat and was originally built as Clary Jo for alleged Chicago mob boss Tony Accardo.
On Saturday most of the boats were open for viewing. Hundreds of automobile aficionados attended the spectacular Concours d’Elegance of vintage cars on the red carpet and heard the stories behind them. One of the most memorable—a 1963 Chevrolet Impala Super Sport—won the award for “Hottest American Love Story” and is owned by Derek Wachob. His father previously owned the car and proposed to Derek’s mother in it. He then sold it to buy a trailer for them to live in. Unbeknownst to his father, Derek finally found the car after a 10-year search, restored it, and surprised his parents, who rode in it on their 50th wedding anniversary during Vintage Weekend.
Airplane devotees were treated to a fly-over by vintage craft during an alfresco beach luncheon at Ocean Reef’s Buccaneer Island grill—aeronautic stunts and spirals thrilled the crowd—after which commentators gave more detailed descriptions at the airfield.
One of the most anticipated events of the weekend has always been the Saturday evening costumed cocktail reception and dinner dance at the Town Hall, and many went all out for the event’s “Vintage Weekend Goes to the Movies” theme. This was Ocean Reef members Bill and Maureen Goldfarb’s seventh year at the event, and each year they try to outdo the previous year’s costumes. “Every year we bring close friends and expose them to this great event that Ocean Reef puts on. It’s all about sharing the event with others,” said the Goldfarbs, who brought three couples from around the country and dressed in western movie-themed costumes. Another group dressed as some of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians and even rode to the Town Hall on the 1924 Ahrens-Fox NS4 Fire Truck owned by William Kinney, which won the People’s Choice Award.
The presentation of awards at breakfast Sunday morning was the final event of the weekend, highlighting the many new friendships that had been forged during the previous three days. The 1957 Chris Craft Polly Graf won the Spectator’s Choice Award and was seen again during Fort Lauderdale’s Winterfest Boat Parade. Chicago, Illinois-based owners J.R. and Dawn Davis are huge proponents of boating, and Polly Graf has been in the same family for 49 years. The John Trumpy Award went to Elegante, a 1964 Whiticar owned by Pat and Bill Anton, who gave credit to the crew for the boat’s pristine condition. “It’s all due to them,” Bill says, just one more example of the type of sharing Vintage Weekend always brings.
The 2014 Vintage Weekend is scheduled for December 4-7. For more information, contact Ocean Reef Club membership services at (305) 367-2611, or visit oceanreef.com.
By Liz Pasch, Southern Boating February 2014