As the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile sat in the parking lot at Dick’s Hot Dog Stand, Levi Raper had to look under the hood.
The 2-year-old from Wilson — with possibly a future as a mechanic, designer or engineer — was among about 60 people who came out at lunchtime Tuesday to greet the wheeled frankfurter on its visit to the century-old hot dog landmark on Nash Street.
“This is right up his alley,” said Susan Speight, the boy’s grandmother. “He wants to know what’s in it, what’s under it and everything about it.”
The 27-foot-long hot dog on wheels is in central North Carolina this month to bring awareness to Alzheimer’s disease and raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association of North Carolina.
Shelby Lewis, the vehicle’s trained driver, said the Wienermobile is easy to drive, but it’s sometimes hard to find a parking place.
Lewis said six Wienermobiles crisscross America’s highways, and she is in the 35th graduating class of drivers qualified by Oscar Mayer to drive the vehicles.
Lewis and her fellow crew member handed out whistles, a staple giveaway for the advertising vehicle that has helped sell Oscar Mayer hot dogs since 1936.
The Weinermobile Lewis drives is a 2021 model with just 7,000 miles on the odometer.
The car created quite a level of excitement as it rolled down Nash Street from Raleigh Road before pulling behind Dick’s.
“You can’t help but smile,” said Phil Mooring. “I just came to get a hot dog. I wasn’t expecting this.”
“Everyone smiles when they see you,” Lewis said.
Dick’s Hot Dog Stand has served hot dogs in Wilson since 1921.
Chris Barger, the new owner at Dick’s, said the appearance was great.
“It was a lot of excitement down here,” Barger said. “The community came out to see the Wienermobile and get some hot dogs, so it was a win-win. It was for a great cause.”