As central Ohio prepares to celebrate America on the Fourth of July, a group of enthusiasts in Worthington will be celebrating one of Great Britain's most famous exports.
About 100 Mini Coopers will represent the British invasion from Thursday, June 29, to Sunday, July 2, at the Holiday Inn at 7007 N. High St. in Worthington.
They will gather for Mini Meet East 2017, billed as the region's largest annual gathering of Mini drivers.
The hotel serves as the hub for the event, and it will be filled with an estimated 200 Mini fans who will travel to a rallycross event in Circleville, a photo shoot in Delaware County and a variety of other celebrations around central Ohio.
Lots of Mini Coopers in Worthington this weekend for Mini Meet East pic.twitter.com/kCLF5yAQtQ— Andrew King (@ThisWeekAndrew) June 30, 2017
Tom Christ, a retired dentist who has owned the same Mini for 42 years, was a founder of the Central Ohio Mini Owners and serves as the club's de facto president.
He said meets have been going on since 1974 in Reading, Pennsylvania, and are an international affair, with cars coming from as far as Canada, Mexico and Great Britain.
"It's a very wide demographic," Christ said. "There are people from all walks of life.
"It's like any other car enthusiast -- you get kind of fixated on one style of car and just kind of hang with it, and Minis seem to appeal to a very wide range of individuals."
Christ said the events began as an excuse for vintage Mini owners to meet up, but has grown into a celebration of both old and new iterations of the brand.
And although some simply are happy to share their stock vehicles, others enjoy showing off their modifications or refurbished old machines.
"This is a way for owners to get together and show what they've been doing with their cars," he said.
The meets are scheduled each summer at a different location, usually around the anniversary of the Mini's launch in 1959. This summer's event is the first in central Ohio since 2005 in Dublin.
Christ said the Worthington hotel offers an excellent central point for the gathering, but the location was chosen more out of logistical reasons.
"We try to find an affordable hotel," he said with a laugh. "We're not the Ferrari club or the Porsche club."
For more information, visit www.sites.google.com/site/minimeeteast2017.