A Heartwarming Holiday

Written by editor on . Posted in Spring 2009

It may surprise most people to know that the history of many of our current holiday traditions dates back more than 4,000 years. The 12 days of Christmas, the bright fires, the Yule log, the giving of gifts, carnivals (parades) with floats, carolers who sing while going from house to house and the holiday feasts can all be traced back to the early Mesopotamians.

Every civilization in history has assigned special significance to at least a few holidays on a regular basis from the time that calendars were invented. From the times when people gathered outside their caves to rejoice over the successful mammoth hunt, people just seem to need to have holiday celebrations that commemorate events and persons of importance to the group.

Hence as soon as holiday celebrations were invented, the holiday feast developed soon afterward. As a result, the holiday calendar expanded as people searched out reasons to get together and enjoy the company of others, as well as generous amounts of food and beverage.

The history of Viper club holiday parties may not cover centuries, but what they lack in longevity they make up for in creativity and attitude. Since the Viper Club of America was founded in 1995, various chapters around the country (and the world) have chosen to celebrate the holiday season in a number of different venues.

These parties have taken place in restaurants, garages, aquariums, zoos, museums, race tracks, car dealerships, golf resorts, cruise ships—almost anywhere you can imagine. However, ask most people what they prefer and most will opt for the good old house party; especially when the homestead is like the one owned by Steve and Lynn Wedel, of St. Louis, Mo.

Most Viper club members will remember that Steve Wedel has been with the organization almost since its inception in 1995, has served as president of the VCA Gateway chapter and recently had a two-year stint as the National VCA president. But when his term came to an end, his involvement with the club definitely did not.

When it comes time for the annual holiday party for the Gateway club, the Wedels graciously open up their home for members to celebrate the end of one year and festively kick off the beginning of the next. Given the setting, it’s the social event of the year.

“We really enjoy all the preparation and anticipation that goes into this gathering,” Steve said. “There’s no greater group of people anywhere than Viper owners, so any excuse we can use to get us all together is fine with me.”

To say the Gateway members are into this party would be an extreme understatement. If the invitation says the start time is 3 p.m., you can count on people ringing the bell about 15 minutes early. There’s no time to waste.

As the guests arrive, the driveway begins to fill with a veritable rainbow of Vipers. First among them are two of the new Viper Blue SRT10® coupes, which provide a colorful counterpoint to the white of the Wedels’ two story colonial. Wave after wave of guests arrive, each bringing in another dish containing an appetizer or dessert to add to the growing accumulation of food. As one guest looks over the dining room table which is overflowing with gourmet delights, he decides to opt for what he calls “pre-sert”—that’s when you go for the sweet stuff ahead of everything else.

Of course the first gathering point is the kitchen, but everyone gradually spreads out (there’s a lot of room for that) to the rest of the house, with a majority of the celebrating taking place on the lower level. Down the stairs, through the rec room with the full size pool table, down the hall, past the fitness room, wine cellar, collection of classic LPs and autographed guitars (from the Rolling Stones and George Thoroughgood, to name a couple), they arrive at the ultimate destination, the party room.

As if the rest of the house wasn’t enough, Steve went to great lengths to ensure his visitors would have everything they needed to enjoy themselves. With a full service bar dominating one corner, scattered around the rest of the room was a Viper pinball machine, skeeball, a racing arcade game and a custom built, Viper-accented shuffleboard table.

Others took the opportunity to venture outside, over Steve Wedel’s garage, which not only housed several of his Vipers, but also two Challengers—both the new one and the classic version from the ’70s.

Once the partygoers were thoroughly fed and entertained, the focus shifted to a spirited round bidding on some auction items generously donated by the club members. Moderated by current Gateway president Michael Kneemueller, the auction raised funds that will go to the club’s activities for the coming year. A special presentation was made to one club member who lost a large quantity of Viperabilia in a house fire last year. Steve Wedel and others gathered some collectibles and made them a most welcome holiday gift to her from the rest of the club.

Later that evening, as the revelry wound down, Steve reflected on the day’s event, as well as his entire history with the Viper club. He said, “This is what makes it all worthwhile, seeing everyone enjoy themselves so much. We have such a great club with fantastic membership—it’s always a pleasure to get together. That’s what makes the Viper club so special. It’s not just about the cars, it’s about the people.”

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