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Cadillacs cruise into Town Square

The eighth annual Cadillac Through the Years car show takes center stage April 13-14 at Town Square Las Vegas.

With more than 100 Cadillacs dating back to as far as 1903 expected, the array of vehicles has attracted thousands of fans every year and event promoters expect the first two-day event to draw even more enthusiasts this year.

The event, the brainchild of Las Vegas Cadillac LaSalle Club and Findlay Cadillac, has grown dramatically since it was first held eight years ago, with crowds of more than 20,000 attending last year. The latest event marks the third year at Town Square, 6605 Las Vegas Blvd. South.

New this year, the Fintastic Fortunes Raffle will offer more than $25,000 in prizes ranging from fine art to car memorabilia and staycation packages. Funds benefit Keep Memory Alive, a nonprofit charitable organization supporting the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

“Over the past seven years, the event has been primarily a Las Vegas Valley car show,” said Colin Christie, president of the Las Vegas Cadillac LaSalle Club. “It now has transformed into a Western regional event. We are expecting half of our classic Cadillac cars to come from outside the state of Nevada.”

“People come to the show because they look at Cadillac as one of the pinnacle cars of all time,” Christie said. “They especially like the older models and this year we will have 110 years of Cadillacs on display. We will have a vehicle from every decade starting with the 1900s.”

The early cars will be exhibited by club members. Findlay Cadillac, a primary sponsor, is providing the current model lineup.

“When people look back at the older Cadillacs, they also think about the fun times they had in the era of that particular vehicle. They also enjoy looking at how the styling and technology has changed through the years,” he said.

Native Las Vegan Dr. Aaron Mancuso is a medical optometrist who vividly remembers when his parents took him to see the movie “The Godfather” at the old Red Rock Theatre in the 1970s. The sight of impressive Cadillacs in the movie starring Marlon Brando stuck in Mancuso’s mind. He’ll showcase his own 1956 Coupe de Ville during the show.

Mancuso said he was fascinated by the line of Cadillacs and their iconic tail fins during the funeral of Vito Corleone. The vision stayed ingrained in his mind in what proved to be a long trek toward finding his own classic Cadillac, which is now his daily driver.

Mancuso became the third person to own the car, which was purchased from a seller in Venice Beach, Calif., in 2005. He said he will never forget his drive home from Southern California.

“I got on the freeway and was doing 80 miles an hour and it drove like a dream,” he said. “I instantly fell in love with the car.”

“No question about it — it’s nice to just cruise around in the car, especially considering the attention that it generates,” he said. “I think every man likes having his own little world, at least for a while. Then, too, there’s something very cool about pulling up to a stop light and watching people eyeball the car, roll down windows and offer their praises about the Cadillac.”

For Lauren Schweitzer, Cadillac is a way of life. The club member, who will show her 1994 Fleetwood Brougham, works on her classic car whenever she is not working at All Cadillacs of the ’40s and ’50s selling parts and helping customers with their own rides.

Schweitzer has been around the General Motors brand for most of her life.

“My dad has had nothing but Cadillacs since he was 18 years old,” said Schweitzer, who even has “Cadillac” tattooed on her upper back. “Every weekend when I was a kid, we went to car shows and I just fell in love with Cadillacs. Cadillacs are gorgeous. I’m a total Daddy’s girl so spending time with my dad always meant spending time with Cadillacs.”

Schweitzer learned to drive at age 16, taking a 1967 Eldorado through the streets of Chicago.

She said the car show is an amazing gathering and great place to show classic vehicles. Schweitzer is on the club’s national board of directors as membership promotion and public relations chairwoman.

“We are very proud of our club,” she said. “A lot of people don’t even know we exist and this is great exposure for us.”

Most members of the group are in their 60s, but Schweitzer, who is in her mid-30s, said she fits in just fine with the club that has 110 members.

“We’re all like family,” Schweitzer said. “Since my mom and dad still live in Chicago, these people are like my surrogate family. It’s very laid-back and everyone has their own story. It’s really cool.”

Nationally recognized sponsors such as Budweiser, Coca-Cola and J.C. Taylor Insurance will be among the participants in the Las Vegas show. Also, the event will include vendors, entertainers, food, a beer garden, celebrity guests and live entertainment.

The show’s expanded two-day format is expected to draw visitors and their vehicles from throughout the state as well as California, Arizona, Utah and Idaho.

“We are really expecting this year’s show to be bigger and better than ever,” said John Saksa, Findlay Cadillac general manager. “This year, we have live entertainment and our patrons will see a Cadillac cultural experience.”

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