ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP — Dozens of Jeep enthusiasts gathered Sunday morning in the parking lot of Max’s Pizza and Grill before riding more than 60 miles to support police organizations in two states.

Jamie and Jennifer Chittle, both of Jefferson, worked with Mike Sami, owner of Max’s Pizza and Grill, to start a Jeep night on Thursday evenings, Jamie Chittle said. He said it was designed to support Sami who made 9,000 meals this spring and early summer in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The group gathers from 5 to 9 p.m. every Thursday in the restaurant parking lot for a “car show” and the idea of a Jeep rally to support the police stemmed from that event.

Kelly Pesta, a corrections officer in Pennsylvania, coordinated the ride with Tracy Bidwell of Ashtabula.

“There has been so much negativity towards against law enforcment. I feel they need support,” Pesta said.

Pesta said the procession of Jeeps, and a few motorcycles, was scheduled to drive by law enforcement facilities including police departments in Ashtabula, North Kingsville and Conneaut then cross the state line to Lake City, Pa., the Girard Pennsylvania State Police headquarters and police departments in Girard, Millcreek and Erie.

She said the people in the procession were not going to stop along the way due to social distancing challenges, but would beep horns in appreciation. 

Sami said the idea is to support law enforcement and he appreciates having the Jeep presence at his establishment.

Several Ashtabula police officers heard the honking of horns and came out to see the procession go by.

“If you see them tell them we said thank you,” a police officer said.


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