Families Come Out to See Annual Car Show

Mercy and the Merkettes entertain during the Kiwanis For Fun Car Show on Sunday at Johnny Carson Park.

For Tony Wade, the Kiwanis For Fun Car Show is a labor of charitable love.

For 30 years the Burbank resident owned an automotive shop in Glendale and was a member of the Glendale Kiwanis. When he retired 14 years ago, he decided to join a club closer to home. Then, with help from Donna, his wife of 40 years, and their daughter and son-in-law, he started a Kiwanis Club of his own.

During the club’s annual Car Show Sunday, Wade was supervising the members barbecuing hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken on the grill under the trees at Johnny Carson Park. They served 800 people lunch and 200 at the pancake breakfast.

The Aktion Club, whose members are developmentally disabled, was selling lemonade. The group is sponsored by the Kiwanis For Fun. Their participation in Kiwanis fundraising events like the annual car show allows them to learn skills that help them gain independence. Seeing them beam with pride as they volunteer alongside Kiwanis members does Wade’s heart a lot of good. He sees firsthand how his club has made a difference in their lives.

The funds raised from the car show go to children’s charities in Burbank, including the Boys & Girls Club and BCR “a place to grow”, as well as The Roy and Patricia Disney Cancer Center, the Burbank Police Department and the Burbank Animal Shelter.

“We donated 400 bicycle helmets this year to the Burbank Police Department for kids that don’t have helmets, and cooked and provided the product for Burroughs Senior Pancake Breakfast last week. We fed 700 kids in an hour,” Wade said. “I have had a great life and it’s a great thing to give something back.”

The car enthusiasts dotting the lush landscape had different reasons for showing their babies.

Lori Wilcox’s 1944 convertible with a rumble seat was among the 300 vehicles displayed. It’s a bright pink with flames painted on the hood, front fenders and doors. She’s been showing the car for 10 years, she said, as a way to share a hobby with her dad who owns a woody.

Her car often wins the women’s choice award, probably because of the color, she added. The car appears in the Hollywood Christmas Parade each year and has carried such celebrities as those from the former ABC TV show going to online “One Life to Live”, L.A. City Councilman Eric Garcetti and the band One Direction.

Pete Rios of Arleta was sitting under a pop-up tent with several friends. He was showing his black 1938 Buick Century that he bought 10 years ago. He has restored it, he said, incorporating his ideas along with those offered by his wife and son.

He tuned up the engine and had proper headers made for it. The carburetor was changed to 12 volts and shocks were added so he could lower the car to the ground during shows and raise it to drive, he said.

“They call these cars low riders or bombs — anything from the ’30s,” he said. “Some people like them stock, but I’m a low rider from way back, that’s why I built it this way.”

It took him a good five years to get it to show condition. It was his longtime dream to own a show car, he said, but because of the costs involved, he had to wait until retirement and after the kids grew up. Now he shows the car all over Southern California.

“We meet a lot of nice people and see friends we went to school with way back,” he said.

Photos By Joyce Rudolph