The Kovatch Corporation in Nesquehoning, which manufactures fire trucks and police cars, sells cars, and has a new collision center, held an open house and Employee Appreciation Day Saturday.

Despite threatening clouds, thousands of people attended the event.

Free refreshments were served and a spokesperson said 4,000 hot dogs and hamburgers were given away within the first three hours of the five-hour event.

Featured were tours of the KME plant, one of the largest fire truck manufacturing facilities in the world where apparatus is presently being made for fire companies as far away as Boston, Hawaii and China.

Two trucks got a lot of attention: a ladder truck with a tiller a seat on the rear of the ladder to assist with steering the vehicle and a rescue truck with bright blue lights framing the compartments.

In addition, the Kovatch firm unveiled its new collision center along Route 209 across the street from Redner's Market.

There was a MedEvac helicopter landing. Children were able to sit in the chopper, although some were timid and opted to merely look at it from outside.

The Kovatch Ford dealership office and showroom are interesting with a large mural. Also, two antique cars were on display.

A trolley car transported visitors to the collision center, which is off premise from the main campus of the Kovatch Corporation.

Joe Boyle, body shop manager, said it is a "state of the art" facility with about 20,000 square feet. It has interior space for about 35 cars.

There are two spray booths in which staff mixes its own paints.

"We can do any car or motorcycle," Boyle said.

Displayed at the collision center were two race cars owned by the Kovatch Corporation and driven by John Kovatch IV.

All the money won by Kovatch while racing is donated to one of two charities, and then is matched by the Kovatch firm.

Proceeds won by one of the cars benefits the Lehigh Valley Burn Foundation, while the money won with the second car benefits the Sonny Kovatch Scholarship Fund. Coincidentally, Kovatch is the points leader in his respective racing circuit.

Ric Reaman, an executive of the Kovatch Corporation, said over 30 employees from the firms Latham, N.Y. facility drove down for the open house.

John Kovatch III, president and CEO of the Kovatch firm, was happy with the activities on Saturday.

"We had a fantastic turnout," he said. "It's been really a nice day. I got to meet a lot of old friends, a lot of past employees, and a lot of current employees."

A highlight of the Employee Appreciation Day was the awarding of a Ford Fusion to an employee. This was done via a drawing held for employees who attended the event and registered for it.