BARTON – Several months ago, Lorie Seadale set out on a mission to bring the record of the longest Cadillac parade to this small community, once home of Henry Leland, the inventor of the Cadillac. On Wednesday, the record was not only broken but exceeded the hopes and dreams of many.
The previous record of 102 cars was held by a community in the Netherlands. The new record, set yesterday during the first day of the Orleans County Fair, was 298 cars. Guinness Book of World Records representatives officiated over the successful attempt.
Owners of the cars gathered at Lake Region Union High School in Orleans before proceeding down US RT 5 into Barton Village. One by one, each driver happily drove his or her car as community members watched and cheered. The parade ended at the grandstand at the Orleans County Fairgrounds.
Dara Freeman, a district sales manager for Cadillac, said the company is proud of the town, state and everyone involved. The turnout, she said, was spectacular.
The attempt at the record drew participants from across the continental United States, Canada and Alaska. Merle Wheeler of Derby drove his 1994 Cadillac. Each car certainly had its own personality. Some were bright and shiny while others had signs of coming from a loving family.
“It’s not too often you get a chance to show off in your family car,” said Wheeler. Breaking the record was important for Wheeler and everyone else involved. “I’m proud. I want to be part of history without being part of the criminal section.”
Wheeler’s neighbor Ercil Davis drove his 2002 Cadillac Deville in the parade. Davis jokingly said his neighbor talked him into taking part in the parade.
Jacob Fournier of Lunenburg drove 1967 Cadillac Ambulance he purchased on the Internet 18 months ago. Fournier's vehicle looks like the car from the movie "Ghost Busters" and he's proud to drive and own a vehicle that once saved lives.
The parade was bittersweet for Rita Choquette and several of her family members. Choquette brought a tapestry of her mother, Bella Choquette, who died Aug. 2. Bella had planned on being in the car with the Choquette family.
“She missed it by 15 days,” said Pattie Manne, who said they took Bella for a ride every Wednesday. “This is her Wednesday ride.”
The parade drew the attention of the Leland family. Doug Leland of Coronado, CA, dressed the part of his great-great-great uncle, Henry Leland.
“This is wonderful,” said Leland. “It’s great the record be set in the United States and there is no place better than the Orleans County Fair.”
Leland hopes the record is broken next year, right at the Orleans County Fair. “I think they should do this every year,” he said.
Morgan Wilber, from Guinness, said the company has a large database and there is no guarantee the record will be published in the book the company publishes. However, it will be online sometime next week.