MEXICO — For the third consecutive year, the skies were blue and cloud-free for the Mexico Cruise-In Thursday evening behind the Town Hall and Fire Station.

Although the Cruise-In was not scheduled to begin until 5 p.m., there were already dozens of residents strolling through the parking lot while owners were still setting up their cars.

By 5 p.m., there were well over 100 classic cars, trucks and vans lining the parking lot, and close to 200 residents enjoying the weather and listening to the strains of The Kingsmen’s hit 1963 song “Louie Louie” blare from the speakers inside of the gazebo.

The third annual cruise-in was sponsored by the Mexico Firefighters Relief Association and the Tired Iron Cruizers Car Club to raise money for the association.

Members of the Fire Department cooked hot dogs and hamburgers for residents, while several members of the Tired Iron Cruizers Car Club walked through the parking lot, selling raffle tickets.

Many of the car owners considered themselves old pros when it came to setting up for shows.

Lewiston resident Joe Mello, who was dressed in a studded leather jacket and pants and hair slicked back brought his 1951 Ford Victoria Lead Sled, painted bright blue with purple-blue flame decals on the side and top.

“This is an old custom model that I remodeled myself,” Mello, a former pastor, said before pointing out his license plate, which read “BETTY LU.”

“I dedicated this car to my wife, Betty Lou,” Mello said. “She died seven years ago. After she passed away, I retired from being a pastor and started working on this car. It’s in memory of her.”

The name “Betty Lou” was also painted across the front side of the car.

Mello’s love for the music of the ’50s and ’60s played into other details of the car, including a trunk that featured a DVD player, a flat-screen television and several Elvis Presley record sleeves arranged around them.

“When you turn on the TV, it plays old Elvis Presley concerts,” Mello said with a laugh. “I was a teenager in the ’50s, so I loved that type of music. When you see this car going down the street, it’s like a piece of history is driving by.”

Mello said his Ford Victoria and his 1951 Mercury convertible, which was not at the cruise-in, have been popular at car shows across the state.

“The guy who owned my car said that he won around 50 trophies from different car shows while he owned it,” Mello said. “I’ve had it for about seven years and have won well over 100 trophies.”

Before moving to Maine, Mello said he owned a body shop in Rhode Island where he remodeled cars. It’s a skill he’s used his entire life, he said.

Resident Terry Holman, who brought his 1931 two-door Ford, said he bought the car at a junkyard in the ’60s and didn’t touch it for decades.

“Me and my wife had three kids after I bought that car, which sort of put a crimp in things,” Holman said with a smile. “I completely restructured the car, took the front end out and made it run.”

Holman said he used to remodel cars in high school, something that he assumes half of the people at the cruise-in did.

“I bet if you went and talked to the other people at the cruise-in, they’d all tell you that they remodeled cars when they were young and in high school,” Holman said.

At times, Holman’s eyes would train on a car driving by, whether it was an old Chevrolet Impala or a 1964 red Camaro, and he’d say, “That is a nice looking car.”

Joey and Karen Turner brought their cars to the cruise-in as a way to pay tribute to a close friend.

The Turners brought a 1932 Ford Coupe that their close friend, Harland Brown, built from the ground up. Brown died in 2013 of complications from the chemical Agent Orange.

“Harland was a genius when it came to cars,” Joey Turner said. “He would build them up from scratch, or take a car and completely remodel it. He used to take vans, cut them in half to shorten them, jack them up and remodel them from there. He was unbelievable.”

Turner said the 1932 Ford Coupe was the final project Brown worked on before passing away, and he helped Brown finish it when he started growing weaker.

“After he passed, he gave the car to Joey,” Karen Turner said. “We bring the car out to different car shows in his memory.”

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