Letters to the editor, Aug. 26, 2006
The Daily Press
Monday, August 28th, 2006 10:02:10 AM

A ‘topless’ thank you

On behalf of 417 delighted, impressed and exhilarated convertible lovers driving 200 topless automobiles, we want to extend our thanks and appreciation for the outstanding welcome we received from everyone in Apostle Islands Country for the inaugural running of the OpenAir Classic tour. We may never wipe the smiles off our faces!

We chose this area for our first tour because of it's wealth of natural beauty, state and federal parks and forests, excellent roads and dozens of outstanding businesses that welcome travelers. We were not disappointed.

Wherever we went, the reception was warm, welcoming and sincere. We especially want to thank the checkpoints, Chambers of Commerce, Convention and Visitor Bureaus and friendly people in Ashland, Bayfield, Cable, Cornucopia, Delta, Grand View, LaPointe, Iron River, Odanah and Washburn.

Special recognition is due Steve Hoecker and the helpful staff at the Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center. Their help and cooperation at that extraordinary facility made the challenging task of staging and starting of our 200 vehicles a smooth running and grand ceremony. It is truly a joy to have see a public facility made available to support events that have a positive impact on your entire area.

We want to thank Mayor Ed Monroe of Ashland and his charming wife Maribeth who chose to personally meet and greet our 400 participants at Prentice Park to fill water bottles from the artesian springs. The Mayor then did an encore on Saturday when he arrived early in the morning to offer a Mayoral sendoff to each car on the starting grid.

In Bayfield our participants were again impressed by the local hospitality as they enjoyed a personal greeting and welcome to the Gateway to the Apostle Islands from Mayor Larry MacDonald. You'll get no argument from us that this community is "The Best Little Town in the Midwest"!

We also want to call your attention to the good work being done by the Friends of the Apostle Islands. Their volunteers staffed a checkpoint at the Washburn Marina and told our participants how to help support the Friends' efforts to preserve and improve this exceptional piece of wilderness.

And finally, we want to commend the excellent reportage' of Daily Press staffer Rick Olivo. His story and photos in the August 19 Ashland Daily Press did a superb job of capturing the unique esprit de corps and camaraderie of our touring group. We're not just another car show, but a rolling family of friends who love the big blue sky, beautiful scenery, friendly communities, great shopping, delicious food and special attractions. Rick got it right and that made it all the more pleasant to be your guests this past week.

Throughout our visit we ran into many area convertible people who asked about our tour. We welcome anyone who loves convertibles to join our group and we welcome convertibles of any make or vintage. We invite folks to check our website at www.OpenAirTours.com for more information or to join the group.

Again, to all our new friends in Apostle Islands Country, "Thank You for your Topless Welcome!"

Gary and Mae Knowles, Mike and Donna Peroutka

Directors of OpenAir Tours

The Daily Press - Ashland
Reprinted with Permission