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American Graffiti Festival brings past to life

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American Graffiti Festival brings past to life

Illustration by CURT MURRAY/The 209


POSTED May 30, 2014 7:50 p.m.

MODESTO — The spirit of vintage cars and cruising is eternally captured in Modesto: the hometown of George Lucas and location where famous film American Graffitti was shot just over 40 years ago. While Lucas’ famed film may not be in theaters anymore, locals keep the spirit of American Graffiti alive through the annual summertime American Graffiti Festival presented by the North Modesto Kiwanis Club.

For the past 16 years those looking to relive their younger years or introduce their children to the iconic summer nights pictured in American Graffiti have been attending the American Graffiti Festival to see the vintage cars and enjoy all the weekend has to offer.

“A lot of people who own the cars that are in the parade and at the festival own the car they wish they could have had in high school. I think for a lot of people this event kind of harkens back to the days of high school or college when life wasn’t as stressful as it seems to be now,” said John Sanders, founding chairperson of the festival.

A parade kicks off the annual festival on Friday night where locals can witness more than 400 vintage vehicles from 1979 or earlier cruise through the downtown of Modesto. Due to the increase in participants, the route has recently been extended from the downtown out to McHenry Avenue as far as Orangeburg Avenue before the cars will turn around and come back towards the downtown. Not only will participants get to see more vehicles, but they will be able to spread out along the route more comfortably as well.

Saturday and Sunday marks the festival days where attendees can take a closer look at many of the vehicles they witnessed in the parade as well as enjoy food, music and more. Located at the Modesto Junior College West Campus on Blue Gum Avenue, there will be two showing of vehicles so locals can relive the glory days by witnessing their favorite old-school vehicle or just enjoy the variety of models and colors. 

“The public has been very much responsive and the City of Modesto as well,” said Sanders. “We could never have an event like this without their support and the support of the general public. People keep coming out and those that come can relate and I think they enjoy that.” 

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