Tears flowed and cameras clicked as Nathan Wenning carefully lifted the red, 20-inch boys bicycle off the assembly line and packed it tenderly in a box.
It was the last Huffy that would ever be made in a town synonymous with the famous bicycle brand.That shiny bike will stay in the town of 10,000 residents, a reminder of what they lost Friday. The Huffy Corp. ended production at the 44-year-old plant, leaving 650 workers without jobs and a town without part of its soul.
"Just about everybody's got a relative or neighbor or friend who worked there," said Larry Stelzer, economic development director for Mercer County. "I worked there 10 years myself in middle management. It's a sad day. There's 44 years of history here."
Layoffs that started in 1994 cut the work force by more than half. In 1995, workers took a 20 percent pay cut. But Huffy said it wasn't enough and announced on May 28 that it would close the Celina plant.