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Hearse show expected to draw lively crowd

Published: Friday, Aug. 16, 2013 6:00 a.m. CDT

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LEMONT – Lemont is host to many car shows during the summer, but the LasRyds Hearse Club will put the focus on a unique category of classic vehicles this weekend.

The club (pronounced “last rides”) will hold its Greatest Show Un-Earthed from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday in the Talcott Square parking lot, Stephen and Talcott streets, Lemont.

Besides the hearses, there will be themed vendors, carnival games, a costume contest, charity raffles and other entertainment. Proceeds from the raffles will benefit the Hope and Friendship Foundation.

Troy Hambly, founder of the club, said membership is made up of more than people who like the cars for being spooky and morbid.

“Probably a majority are what we call ‘haunters,’” he said. “Other people like them just because of the cars.”

Hambly also said most members are not in the funeral services industry, although he operates a funeral home in Plainfield.

“For me, it’s just because they are unique,” he said. “I was actually a hearse collector long before I got in the business.”

To Hambly, hearses are good classic cars because they are custom-built and relatively cheap.

“Everyone thinks [a hearse is] a black Cadillac,” he said. “Probably only 30 percent are Cadillacs.

Hambly owns an 1890s-style horse drawn hearse, a 1926 Chrysler, 1947 Rolls Royce and a 1994 Chevrolet.

The person responsible for bringing the hearse show to Lemont is Kim Peters, co-owner of the Aurora Rose boutique.

Peters said her store previously was in Willow Springs, near where the club had its show in past years. Her Lemont store is across the street from Talcott Square.

“I know the quantity of people it brings to town,” she said. “We’ve been open for over two years, and it still stands as our best business day.”

Peters also appreciates hearses and wants to own one.

“Hearses are a beautiful car,” she said. “And most of the time you don’t get to appreciate it because, if you get up close to one, they’re putting someone you love in it.”

Peters said other business owners have shown a “tentative excitement” for the event.

“When I first approached the Chamber president with this, she was all for it,” she said. “When she pitched it to the Chamber, they said ‘You want to do what?’”

Hambly said reactions to the hearses range from “they’re gross” to “those are kind of neat.” He also has met people who hated the idea of a hearse but are now owners.

Peters and Hambly also are focused on keeping the event family friendly, particularly with the haunters.

“We’re okay with some of the Halloween stuff, but there is a line,” Hambly said.

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