EAST HANOVER, NJ and SUSSEX, NJ – Fans poured into two of the Neilsen Automotive Group Dealerships on Friday and Saturday, bringing a sea of orange with them, as they came in to meet actor John Schneider, best known for his role as “Bo Duke” on “The Dukes of Hazzard”.
Schneider starred on the show from 1979 to 1985.
He has attracted a range of viewers in addition to those who knew him from the “Duke Days”, for his role on “Smallville”, playing Clark Kent’s father, Jonathan.
Schneider has starred in a range of films since 1981, recorded 10 albums over his career, and has had several major guest appearances on popular shows such as “Nip/Tuck”, “Touched by an Angel”, “JAG”, “Walker, Texas Ranger”, “Diagnosis: Murder”, “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman”, “Desperate Housewives”, “90210”, and “CSI: Miami”.
On Friday afternoon, Schneider spent the afternoon at Nielsen Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram in East Hanover, signing autographs for fans on an array of items, from photos, to mini versions of the General Lee, to video, DVD, and album covers, to t-shirts, and other media, memorabilia, and relics generated from his career.
“John is not only the world famous, ‘Bo’, he’s a good friend,” said Bill Snouffer, General Manager of all of the Nielsen Automotive Group dealerships. “We worked his coming out to Franklin Sussex Auto Mall, and he worked into his schedule to come down to East Hanover.”
Snouffer and his sales team were invited to a Chrysler Top Dealer event at the Meadowlands for Northeast dealerships. The automaker gave away $100,000 in prizes to top salespeople. Schneider coordinated his schedule to accommodate the employee’s award event at the Meadowlands.
“It’s nice my teams get to go and enjoy that,” Snouffer remarked.
Snouffer was surprised by the turnout to see Schneider on Friday, with some attendees interviewed by The Alternative Press, out on their lunch breaks from work to meet the star.
“It’s absolutely crazy the crowd that showed,” Snouffer said.
Throughout the afternoon, hundreds of fans, starting from the dealer’s entry door, wound their way and waited patiently on a line that trailed around a roped off area.
Inside the dealer, Snouffer provided Sabrett, Thumann’s, and Nathan’s Hot Dogs, and soda for attendees to enjoy. Star 99.1 broadcast the event live from the location.
Outside the dealership, vintage Dodge Challengers, and General Lees and other “The Dukes of Hazzard” replicas, were lined up by their car enthusiast owners.
Behind Schneider in the showroom was a Dodge Challenger, General Lee Edition.
How did Schneider enjoy visiting with the fans?
“It’s a great event, my favorite weekend of the year outside of seeing my family, is seeing Bill,” Schneider told The Alternative Press.
Fans were equally enthusiastic to meet Schneider.
“It was pretty cool,” said Josh Moran, who visited the East Hanover dealership from Montague, NJ with his grandmother, Sharon Lepre of Randolph, NJ.
Schneider signed a General Lee replica for Moran, and Lepre brought along a “Night of the Twisters” video cover to sign.
“It’s wonderful, I really enjoyed myself today,” Lepre chimed in.
Brian Kapral of West Milford, NJ, and his parents Bob and Pat Kapral of Newton, NJ brought a bag-full of items including a Bo Duke Bobblehead Doll. The three recently attended a “Dukes’ Reunion” in Virginia. The trio additionally displayed their Vintage Dodge Challenger on Friday.
“I grew up watching the TV series,” said Brian Kapral.
“This is nice,” said Bob Kapral.
Evelyn Francisco of Bergenfield, NJ was one of the fans who stopped by on her lunch break.
“He was a childhood crush,” Francisco said of Schneider.
She held up an album cover she brought for Schneider to sign.
“I can’t believe I found it,” Francisco mused. “I bought it at around age 11.”
James Rivera, who originally hailed from Boonton, NJ, but was back visiting family from Jacksonville, FL, said he watched the Dukes during his youth.
“I never thought I’d have a chance to meet him [Schneider], I’m looking forward to meeting him,” he said.
On Saturday, Schneider once again spent the day mingling with fans, this time signing autographs and posing for photos under the immense outdoor tent that Franklin Sussex Auto Mall pitched on their lot.
At the dealership, there was a massive barbecue celebration, car show, and the customary Daisy Duke look-a-like contest, which Schneider ends up helping to judge.
“We here at Franklin Sussex Auto Mall love keeping the ‘good ‘ol country feeling here in Sussex, with barbecues, country music, fast cars, and everyone’s favorite ‘Duke Boy’, John ‘Bo Duke’ Schneider,” Claude Jaillet, the dealer’s general manager said.
Maria Lake from 102.3 WSUS did a live broadcast from the event, and emceed the Daisy Duke look-a-like contest. Along with Schneider, judges on the panel was a retired photographer from Warwick, NY, Bob Demetry, and two of Franklin Sussex Auto Mall’s Employees, Britt Harm, and Bill McConnely.
About 13 participants under the age of 12, and 26 over the age of 13 (with one who entered at 66 years young), strutted their stuff on the catwalk under the tent with their best Daisy Duke rendition.
There were prizes for the best Daisy Dukes in both categories.
In the “Little Miss” division, Larissa McKay won first place and took home a $100 Simon Mall Giftcard. In second place was Mattingly Niles with a $50 gift card, and Jordan Fogelson in third place, who won a $25 gift card.
In the adult contest, Kristen Schulman of Hamburg, NJ was the winner, who took up a 50-inch Phillips flat-screen television. Rachel Ackerman won second place and a $200 Simon Mall Giftcard, Mary Bourne third place and a $100 Simon Mall Giftcard, and Brittany McKay, fourth place and a $50 Simon Mall Giftcard.
“I was so shocked, and so happy, I absolutely love Daisy Duke,” said Schulman of her win.
Click here for the Neilsen Automotive Group family of dealerships, which includes: Dover Dodge Chrysler Jeep in Rockaway, NJ, the Dover Dodge Used Car Center in Wharton, NJ, Franklin Sussex Auto Mall in Sussex, Franklin, NJ, Sussex Hyundai in Sussex, NJ, and Nielsen Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram, in East Hanover, NJ.