This is Atascadero’s week of the car.
City founder E.G. Lewis designed Atascadero around the automobile, most likely the Ford Model T. He knew the car was quickly becoming an important part of the American way of life.
When you see early photos of Atascadero, you see we were at a transition point in how we moved from place to place. A picture from June 1914, which depicts the crowd gathered for the laying of the cornerstone for the City Administration Building, shows automobiles and a number of horses hooked to carriages.
One of my favorite photos from Atascadero’s past was taken in the 1920s on the Golden Way Block, where a fire destroyed the North County Christian Thrift Store four years ago. In the picture are a few cars and trucks parked in front of a bar, along with a horse hitched to a wagon load of hay.
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This week, our attention turns to cars of all varieties. Some are stock and others are very much modified. There are muscle cars and pickup trucks, some with motors so quiet you can’t hear them running and others so loud you wish you weren’t next to them.
I’m talking about the 20th annual Hot El Camino Cruise Nite, which now brings more people to town than the Colony Days parade. On Friday night, thousands of people will line El Camino Real from the Carlton Hotel to Curbaril Avenue to watch hundreds of cars strut their stuff.
I’ve driven a vintage vehicle in every show but two. While driving my jeep in the cruise, I’ve found former shipmates and made new friends.
Pre-dating Cruise Nite is the Mid-State Cruizers’ Lake Car Show on Saturday at Atascadero Lake Park. This event was started more than 20 years ago as a fundraiser to help build the current Pavilion on the Lake.
The Cruizers’ annual car show has brought in thousands of dollars to support local nonprofit organizations, from Atascadero Loaves & Fishes to the North County Women’s Shelter and Resource Center to youth sports. Funds have even gone to the Atascadero Kiwanis Club’s current project to rebuild the bandstand at Atascadero Lake.
Both events are free to the public.
If you drive in the cruise night, you must pay $25 in advance or $30 on Friday night; you can get tickets at City Hall.
The newest event added to Atascadero’s car week is a movie sponsored by the Atascadero Performing Arts Center Committee, or APACC. The nonprofit will be showing “American Graffiti” at the Galaxy Colony Square Theater from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday.
There will be snacks, wine and even root beer floats. Tickets are $25 each and available at the door.
Three good reasons not to leave Atascadero this week.
Lon Allan’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades and his column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 466-8529 or firstname.lastname@example.org.