By Ted AYALA
Even soaring temperatures and sweltering humidity couldn’t keep away local residents and car buffs from the Montrose Shopping Park’s annual Independence Day Block Party Classic Car and Hot Rod Show on Sunday.
Though the heat was already pushing into triple digits by late morning, crowds still swirled and walked along Honolulu Avenue, where classic cars and hot rods lined up along the 2300 and 2400 blocks, their polished chrome hub caps and bright fins shining brightly in the midday sun.
“I’m happy to see the big crowd out here,” said Montrose resident and business owner Chris Waldheim who, along with his children, was enjoying the sight of the classic cars. “There really isn’t a better setting for this event than Honolulu Avenue. You’ve got the open air, beautiful trees, great shops – it’s easy to see why this event is always so successful.”
Out by Wickham Way, several drivers revved up their hot rods for the crowds’ enjoyment. Local resident Dennis Jewell revved up his GTO, the din of its powerful motor roaring through the boulevard like wild thunderclaps, while ever growing crowds circled around his car. Children squealed with delight as Jewell pressed again and again on his gas pedal. Parents, meanwhile, were transfixed in child-like awe over these growling machines and loudly hooted and hollered their approval.
Among those watching were Evan and Grace Thomas who, along with their daughter Olivia, came from Burbank to enjoy the afternoon among the cars and scenery.
Evan, when asked how he was enjoying the show, seemed to look a bit dazed and lost.
“We’ve taken some photos … ,” he said as he trailed off. His wife knew well what was distracting him.
“He loves these cars,” she cut in. “There are one or two that he really loves.” Then she added, “This is a lot of fun for all of us. It’s great.”
Turning his attention to his daughter, Evan added, “It’s fun for her, too. She likes seeing the dogs and the people here.”
“I love the dogs!” she quipped.
Ken Kraut, who grew up in the Crescenta Valley, came in and showed off his 1965 Ford Mustang.
“It’s a family heirloom,” he said. “It’s only been with our family. The Mustang used to be my father’s. In fact, this was the car I learned to drive in.”
Looking at the car, Kraut nodded smiling. “I’ve had quite a good time with this car,” he mused.
Past Oceanview Boulevard and towards Verdugo Road, the Farmer’s Market and Thieves’ Market were buzzing with buyers and visitors. Drifting in the air were the strands of Grimaldi’s New Orleans Jazz Band intermingling with the sounds of children playing, people strolling by and the yelps of food vendors offering an assortment of delicious treats.
In front of Grimaldi’s band stood Studio City resident Len Wasserman, listening. “Isn’t this what it’s all about?” he smiled. “Great music, great food, and classic cars. That’s America, folks.”