Get ready for the rumble
Published: Friday, May 17, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 17, 2013 at 1:16 p.m.
Petaluma is taking a trip back in time, at least for a couple days, as Salute to American Graffiti fills downtown streets with automobiles that harken to a time when cars had chrome, class and big, beefy engines that could clear the streets with a throaty roar.
SALUTE TO AMERICAN GRAFFITI
When:Cruise-in event is from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, May 17
Where: Plaza North Shopping Center on North McDowell Boulevard.
Admission: Free to the public. No registration to display a classic car is required.
SALUTE TO AMERICAN
When: The car show featuring registered vehicles begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 18. The cruise for registered vehicles begins at 4 p.m. and ends around 9 p.m.
Where: Downtown Petaluma
Information: Visit www.americangraffiti.net or call 762-3394.
Sponsored by Petaluma-based Cruisin' The Boulevard, Inc., the event celebrates George Lucas' 1973 film “American Graffiti,” which was filmed in large part in Petaluma.
Now in its eighth year, Salute to American Graffiti kicks off with a cruise-in social from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, May 17 at the Plaza North Shopping Center. There will be reserved parking for 1975 and older American vehicles. The Salute's own XERB radio station will be broadcasting tunes on 88.1 FM. A special presentation of the Henry Travers and Rich Poremba Scholarships to local students entering the automotive or film industries will be held at 6:30 p.m.
Travers worked for Lucas as transportation manager for “American Graffiti.” The job helped launch his career in the film industry. Travers died in 2006.
Petaluma resident Rich Poremba, who co-founded Salute to American Graffiti, died in 2010.
The cruise-in social is free and open to the public. No registration is required for those who wish to have their classic car on display.
“Anyone who wants to bring their car down on Friday is welcome to do that,” said John Furrer, co-founder of Salute to American Graffiti. “It's a big get together. The parking lot fills up fast.”
Salute to American Graffiti takes place from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, May 18 in downtown Petaluma and features an all-day car show and evening cruise.
“We estimate that we have about 30,000 plus people who come out for Salute,” said Furrer. “Last year, we determined that the people attending the event were coming from 18 different states and eight foreign countries — and those are the ones we were able to document.”
Furrer said that they have about 380 cars coming in for this year's Salute, but the total number of vehicles that will be out and about around town is unknown.
“It's a very popular event,” said Furrer. “We have people that bring their cars to town knowing they can't get into Salute, but just want to be a part of it by being in town. We open registration for the show the first Monday in February and normally spots are filled up in 30 days. One year, we filled up spots in just two days!”
In addition to the cars on display downtown, festivities this year include vendors and nostalgia merchandise booths on the corner of Western Avenue and Petaluma Boulevard, live music and dancing at the main stage near the Mystic Theatre, Pine Wood Derby in Theatre Square hosted by the Cub Scouts, and Mel's Burger City, which will be serving up burgers, hot dogs and more on Petaluma Boulevard by the Mystic.
Actress Candy Clark, who played Debbie in the film, will be greeting folks at the American Graffiti Display. XERB radio will also be broadcasting all day.
The evening classic car cruise starts at 4 p.m. on Petaluma Boulevard and continues until 9 p.m. The best place to watch the cruise is along the Boulevard south of B Street all the way down to Boulevard Lanes bowling alley.
“It's a family event,” said Furrer.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of “American Graffiti,” and to celebrate it, Cruisin' the Boulevard filmed a recreation of the drag race scene this week, which will be included in the 2013 DVD of Salute to American Graffiti.
“For the 35th anniversary, we recreated the scene with the cop car,” said Furrer. “We wanted to something for the 40th, too, so the board decided do the drag race scene, which was filmed out on Frates Road.”
Proceeds from Salute to American Graffiti go to grants for local nonprofits, scholarship funds and the purchasing Automatic External Defibrillators for Petaluma Police cars, replacement AED accessories for the Petaluma Police Department and placement of AEDs at other locations around town.
“Our board has 13 members who are all volunteers,” said Furrer. “There are no salaries or rent or leases or any of that stuff to put money into. The net proceeds from the event are reinvested into the community. Our main focus has been the AEDs.”
Furrer said that so far Cruisin' the Boulevard has placed more than 40 AEDs around town.
“The cop cars have them, and the local high schools each have three: one in the office and two in the coaches' hands so they can have them on the court or take them to away games. There's an AED at the community center, one at City Hall and two at the Mary Isaak Center. Our goal is to have one wherever one might be needed, and hopefully it's never needed.”
For more information on Salute to American Graffiti and to view a schedule of events, visit www.americangraffiti.net.
(Contact Yovanna Bieberich at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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