AUGUSTA — Classic Pontiac GTOs, highly modified Honda Civics, an Aston Martin coupe and a wide variety of other hot rides sat motionless Sunday, raising money to help the Augusta Little League rebuild its concession stand that was destroyed by a fire set by someone who broke into the stand in March.

A few feet away from where the 70 or so speedy, classic and custom cars, trucks and a few motorcycles were parked on display at the Capital Area Recreation Association complex’s ballfields, the new concession stand was already taking shape, with its roof, framing and walls constructed by workers and volunteers who got busy building it shortly after it and most of its contents were destroyed by the flames.

Mike Karagiannes, president of Augusta Little League, said the old concession stand, which was declared a total loss, was torn down about a week after the fire so work could start on a new one.

He estimates the new stand will be done around the beginning of June, meaning missing out on about four weeks of potential revenue from sales after the baseball season starts. Sales from the stand help offset the cost of running the league and pay for maintenance and upgrades to the facilities.

Ian Lasselle, 10, pitches Sunday to Kolton Colby, 9, in front of the concession stand being rebuilt at the CARA fields after an old building was destroyed by fire this winter. A fundraiser was held to replace the building. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

He said the community response to the destruction of the building has been amazing, including the turnout at the “Vehicles Against Vandals Cruise” on Sunday organized by local resident Corey Folsom.

“It has been unbelievable,” Karagiannes, who played Little League on the same approximate spot himself as a child, said of the response to the damage. “I think a lot of people feel the connection to the community. Yeah, it’s baseball, but it’s really about the youth, not just baseball. People want kids to be active and be good citizens.”

Larry Mason, of China, brought his 1969, absurdly shiny red Pontiac GTO to the event.

“I’m here for the kids; I heard about the vandals and what they did,” Mason said. “Well, and I’m here to look at the other cars, too.”

He said he drives his car as often as he can because it’s meant to be driven, not kept hidden in a garage. He said he played Little League as a child, and he thinks it’s important kids have it available today, so they spend more time outside and less time indoors on computers.

Folsom, who in addition to organizing the event also displayed his bright orange Chevy Camaro with a chrome blower rising out of its hood, said the car show was unique in that a wide variety of vehicles were welcome, from classic muscle cars to tuner cars to trucks and motorcycles.

“It’s great to see them all come together for the community,” Folsom said.

Members of a few car clubs also took part, including several from Team Dragon, a group of tuners with primarily foreign-built modern cars, who had been at a major car show in Massachusetts before returning to Maine to display an array of Subaru WRXs, Civics and other customized cars.

Patrick Coughlin drove from his home in Massachusetts to show off his 1994 Honda Civic hatchback with a wide body racing kit he’s been customizing for the last three or four years.

He said he came to the event to support Josh Judkins, president of the Maine chapter of Team Dragon, who had his 2018 Subaru WRX on display Sunday.

Judkins, of Chelsea, said he came to the event because he was asked to help out. He said it was “messed up” that the concession stand, which benefits kids, was vandalized.

Walter Willey, of Fairfield Center, inspects cars on display Sunday during the cruise in at the CARA fields. A fundraiser was held to replace a building at the complex destroyed by fire. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

Most of the contents of the concession stand, including its fryolators, a popcorn machine and refrigerators, were destroyed as well. Karagiannes noted companies have donated a cooler for drinks and a freezer for ice cream for the concession building.

Karagiannes said it has been hard to total up the losses. But he estimated constructing the new building and replacing the equipment inside will cost between $70,000 to $80,000, a good portion of which he anticipates will be covered by insurance, which was in place on the burned building.

A fire suppression system, required due to the presence of the all the cooking equipment in the snack shack — which was, perhaps ironically, destroyed because it is only active when cooking is taking place — is expected to cost somewhere between $8,000 and $10,000 alone.

Karagiannes said construction plans include putting an active security system in the concession stand and in other buildings at the playing fields to prevent future break-ins. Work will also expand the stand slightly and make it more accessible to people with disabilities.

Sales of burgers, hot dogs, chicken, french fries and ice cream at the event went to the Little League. Donations were accepted, and raffles, including of a 1958 Mickey Mantle baseball card donated by Folsom, also raised money for the cause.

A live auction the evening of June 1 at the Augusta Civic Center will also benefit the CARA complex.

Karagiannes said, in the past, people have broken into the concession stand looking for money or food, neither of which were inside it over the winter. He said it’s hard to understand why someone would set fire to it.

A short time after the suspicious fire at the concession stand, the press box at the nearby McGuire Field was ransacked and heavily damaged by vandals. Karagiannes, a board member of CARA, said the structure was so heavily damaged that it, too, will be replaced with a new building.

Augusta Police Deputy Chief Kevin Lully said Friday there was nothing new to report on their investigation into who may have done the damage at the complex.

About 170 children played on Augusta Little League teams last year, with many more people involved in the league as parents, volunteers and spectators.


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