Although I was already 30 when TV star Mario Lopez began his five-year run as AC Slater in the “Saved By the Bell” TV series, I remember that not only was I a fan of the show, but so were my sons, neither of whom had yet reached double digits when the original “Saved By the Bell” series ended in 1994.
Today, Lopez is starting his tenth year as the co-host of the Emmy Award-winning daily syndicated “Extra” TV series. So, what was this Hollywood star doing in Wesley Chapel on April 22?
Lopez spent the day with Wesley Chapel Nissan owner Jay Rosario, including a four-hour appearance at the dealership, which was named the first Motor Trend magazine-certified auto dealership in Florida, meaning that the dealership’s pre-owned side only sells pre-owned vehicles that have been certified (inspected, upgraded and guaranteed) by Motor Trend.
“It’s a big honor,” Wesley Chapel Nissan public relations manager and Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber Ambassador Troy Stevenson. “We wanted to reach as many people as possible with the news about Motor Trend and Mario Lopez sure delivered.”
In fact, a crowd estimated at 1,100 people by the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office — which was on-hand in force for the event and of which Rosario, executive GM Joey Falcon and their staff have been major supporters — came to see Mario, who threw Wesley Chapel Nissan T-shirts, posed for pictures and signed autographs for dozens of excited guests the last couple of hours of the event, which included giving away more than 900 hot dogs. Some of those attendees also got to enjoy gourmet cuisine like filet mignon sliders provided by Vesh Catering in the VIP area inside the dealership.
Rosario, an Orange County Sheriff’s Office reservist who lives in Orlando (where he owns Celebrity Nissan), was one of the first people allowed inside the Pulse Night Club following the mass shooting tragedy there in June of last year. I hope to be able to discuss both the aftermath of that horrible event with him and his support of Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco in a future episode of WCNT-tv and in these pages. — Gary Nager