Before Santa got into his traditional red sleigh on Christmas Eve, he, along with a few of his helpers, cruised Crescenta Valley in classic hot rods.
A 1929 red Roadster pick-up and a 1940 yellow Ford pick-up filled with toys led the pack of classic cars that span the time of automobile history, traveling from the parking lot of the United Artists movie theater in La Cañada to Los Angeles County Fire Department Station 82.
These hot rod Santas are from the Early Rodders, a group of classic car enthusiasts that meet every Saturday at the UA where they have coffee and bagels while displaying their extremely well maintained automobiles.
Five years ago Gary Evans looked around at the membership and thought they could do some outreach into the community.
“We meet here every Saturday and I thought we should start to give back to the community,” Evans said.
Evans asked for Early Rodder members to bring an unwrapped toy that would then be donated to the LACoFD’s toy drive. The rodders eagerly responded.
“We are growing every year,” he said.
There are about 150 members of the Early Rodders and most can be found – with their vehicles – in the UA parking lot on Saturday mornings.
“I come here every Saturday,” said Crescenta Valley High School junior Ben Tuna.
Tuna is looking to buy a car and said he would like to have a classic car.
“I go to car shows and have been into cars for a long time,” he said. “I like these [types] of cars.”
He added that he wanted a car that he could work on and liked the style of the older vehicles.
When asked what type of car he wanted, he does not hesitate.
“The ’71 Seville Super Sport, dark green with white stripes,” he said.
On toy delivery day, the Early Rodders arrived at the UA parking lot as usual at 7 a.m. and by about 8:30 a.m. they were ready to make their way to the fire station. Once there, the firefighters were as excited about the toys as they were about the cars that rolled up to deliver them.
Car owners and firefighters made a toy brigade, filling the station’s front office with toys to help support the department’s Spark of Love toy drive.
Photos by Molly SHELTON