Love of Mustangs leads to 10 year event

Paul Maruska of rural New Prague has a passion for Mustangs. So much that he organizes a gathering of owners of the Ford vehicle. This year was the 10th Annual Memorial Weekend Mustang Ride with 29 vehicles participating.

"I’ve always loved Mustangs," said Maruska, who is a mechanic at Shakopee Ford. He explained his brother had just returned from service in Vietnam and had bought a Mustang. "I was 8 eight years old when I fell in love with them."

Maruska eventually bought a 1965 Mustang and then added a 2003. The first year of the ride was organized last minute. He and neighbor Kevin Hartmann were talking about Mustangs and Maruska suggested they have a cruise. They decided to do it.

"We had four cars that first year, two of them were mine," said Maruska. "It just grew from there."

There have been a variety of Mustangs involved in the ride, from pretty nice ones to tough ones. The oldest model has been a 1965. "One year, my nephew (Geoff Hennggler) came up from Missouri. That’s the furthest anyone’s come for it," said Maruska.

His wife JoAnne wasn’t sure about it the first year. They tried a cook out for the first ride. The second year of the ride she suggested they stop for lunch along the route, which has become part of the event.

The ride begins at Maruska’s house, north of New Prague. Normally the vehicles head north into Jordan and then take back roads passing through Henderson, Le Sueur, Le Center and ending back at Maruska’s home. This year they had a BBQ chicken cookout to celebrate the event’s 10th anniversary. Each year ends with the outdoor showing of a movie on a large screen. Maruska noted the last two years they’ve had the movie inside a pole shed due to the weather.

He said that this year was cold, but not wet.He said mostly the weather and the ride has gone well, although there was the second year of the ride when they met up with a bicycle rally. The two events traveled together for two miles.

His family also shares his love of Mustangs. His daughter Megan and her husband Andy Simon bought one about two to three weeks before the ride. Maruska’s son Andrew also owns one, while daughter Amanda, who came from college for this year’s ride, doesn’t own one.

"I think she’s hoping to inherit one," said Maruska with a smile. Besides his ’65 and 2003, he’s also restoring a 1969 model. It was a featured vehicle this year as Maruska is still working on it.

"Hopefully it will be ready next year," he said.