Petaluma Classic Car Buffs Take American Graffiti Car Show/Cruise to Next Level

“My wife and I are huge American Graffiti fans and it has been our dream to celebrate this 1973 timeless, coming of age movie, filmed by George Lucas right here in Petaluma, by producing a classic car show and downtown cruise” said John Furrer, President of the recently formed all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) nonprofit Cruisin’ The Boulevard, Inc. And that’s exactly what the Furrer’s and a group of their friends did last year as a benefit for Boys & Girls Clubs of Petaluma.

“The event was so successful and so much fun that we decided to make it an annual ‘Petaluma’s Salute to American Graffiti’”, commented Furrer, who along with fellow board member Wayne Van Patten, watched some of the movie being filmed back in 1972.“We don’t think Mr. Lucas had any inkling that this homage to his memories as a Modesto teenager would become the immediate success it did, much less that today, 33 years later, it would remain a very popular film not only here in the United States, but now in many foreign countries as well”, added Van Patten.“In fact, news and photos of last year’s cruise appeared in a New Zealand auto magazine. In Europe, the movie is huge. Cars from the movie have appeared at shows in the UK and Germany. There’s even a website dedicated to building an exact duplicate of the movie’s ’32 Ford Coupe. Recently we learned that American Graffiti enthusiasts in both England and New Zealand plan to attend this year’s “Petaluma Salute”, which is planned for May 20.”

Classic car shows have become extremely popular and attract large and in some cases huge crowds as evidenced by Reno’s 8-day extravaganza Hot August Nights that is sold out several years in advance at 5,000 registered cars with another 15,000 that just show up for the fun! Fact is that there are classic car shows across the country and even weekly downtown cruises in such cities of Pasadena, Escondido, and El Cajon to name just a few.

“San Rafael has its ‘May Madness’ and Santa Rosa its ‘Peggy Sue’, but we’ve got the streets where most of American Graffiti was filmed, something no other city in the world can claim”, touted Furrer.“Car shows bring a lot of business into town and although that’s not our mission, we are pleased that our event will have this side benefit for our local economy.”

At this year’s celebration, the group’s board of directors is planning to have several American Graffiti stars present and two of the cars that appeared in the movie.“One of our goals is to reunite the entire American Graffiti cast and director Lucas in 2008 for a 35 year Petaluma reunion.

On January 15, Cruisin’ The Boulevard will begin accepting entries for this year’s May 20th event. Only 200 1972 and older American-made cars and trucks will be accepted. Last year the event sold out 30 days in advance, so those who want to participate should act quickly….very quickly!

Anyone interested in classic cars, American Graffiti or the betterment of Petaluma is encouraged to contact Cruisin’ The Boulevard, Inc. There are presently two positions on the board of directors the organization is seeking to fill and there are plenty of other volunteer opportunities, particularly on the day of the event.

To obtain a “Salute 2006” entry application, a grant funding application, or to find out more about volunteer and sponsor opportunities, call (707) 763-6315; email dadeeooh@netzero.net; or write Cruisin’ The Boulevard, Inc., 1165 San Rafael Drive, Petaluma, CA 94954. Information will also be available soon on the CTB website, www.cruisintheboulevard.com , which is presently under construction.