September 15, 2008

Route 66 Rendezvous Gears Up for Festivities

By Michel Nolan

Route 66 is America's Mother Road, a 2,400-mile stretch of asphalt running from Chicago to Santa Monica.

A veritable Memory Lane, the historic highway bisects San Bernardino's east side, where each September it shines in the spotlight of days remembered.

Beginning Thursday, San Bernardino's downtown streets once again will gleam with chrome and neon as the annual Stater Bros. Route 66 Rendezvous vrooooms into town.

The four-day nostalgic salute to Route 66, now in its 19th year, revs up with some 1,800 of the Southland's cherriest pre-1974 classic cars, cruisin' fun and nonstop entertainment, Thursday through Sunday.

The city's signature event, the Rendezvous, is one of the country's largest automotive street fairs and the largest cruisin' classic car show in California.

Produced by the San Bernardino Convention and Visitors Bureau, the salute to the route attracts about a half-million car buffs from all over the United States.

"With the emotions of the country right now - with 9-11 and the economy - this event makes us take a step back and reflect on American ingenuity and the glorification of these wonderful machines," said Wayne Austin, president and CEO of the San Bernardino Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"Not just on the past, but also the future and how American ingenuity can keep pace with alternative fuels and how we're driving toward our future," he said.

Typically, the 35-block downtown area is filled with Route 66 traditional favorites - cruises, contests, car exhibits, vendors and food, stages of continuous music, rides, Kids Zone, firefighters' competition, the Poker Run.

This year, however, some new attractions have been added to the fun.

The Route 66 Culinary Cook-Off, sponsored by Stater Bros. and the Culinary Arts Institute, will feature a Chef's Competition between three city departments.

San Bernardino Fire, Police and Development Services will create dishes found in typical diners along Route 66.

The cook-off will fire up at 11:30 a.m. Saturday on the grassy hill in front of CinemaStar Theater, according to Karen Blanco, spokeswoman with the convention and visitors bureau.

"It's something new to bring the community together," she said.

Jo Ann Webb, director of corporate relations, reported three new vehicle displays.

"Popular Mechanics magazine will be on hand Saturday with a display of pre-1974 Mustangs, along with a new Mustang to show the new after-market products," she said.

Dodge will have a display of their newer vehicles, and Ford will be coming out with their new "Drive One" display, Webb said.

One of the Rendezvous' most popular features, the Cruisin' Hall of Fame, honors those who have made a significant contribution to the automotive industry.

This year's elite group of honorees will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during a dinner and ceremony Friday evening at the Hilton.

The 2008 honorees are Bill Hines, aka "The Leadslinger"; the Justice Brothers with their professional car care products; the classic 1968 Mustang; and the local Inland Vans Berdoo Club, innovators of the van craze since the 1960s.

Hal Blaine, legendary drummer of the 1960s and '70s, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award for the Cruisin' Hall of Fame.

"The Cruisin' award makes me feel wonderful - really honored," Blaine said. "You get to be a certain age and awards like this are always exciting."

Inland Vans Berdoo has been around nearly 40 years and Steve Portias has been its president for 37 of them.

"We're proud and thrilled to be mentioned in the same breath as the other honorees," said Portias of the 70-member local club.

Throughout the four-day celebration there will be enough family fun for everyone to get their kicks on Route 66.


What: 19th annual Stater Bros. Route 66 Rendezvous

When: 6-10 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Downtown San Bernardino

Free admission


A few highlights:

* Following Thursday's 5:30 p.m. kickoff ceremony, beefed-up muscle cars and custom rods rev up for the Cruisin' and Show-N- Shine/Neon Light Cruise from 6 to 10 p.m.; a blues, rock and soul concert, featuring the Riverside Blues Club, is set for 7-9 p.m. on the Stater Bros. Stage at Court Street Square.

* On Friday, vehicle registration begins at 8 a.m., with exhibits and vendors, rides, Kids Zone, antique trucks, 5-10 p.m.; Cruisin' Hall of Fame Induction Dinner and reception, 5:30 p.m. at the Hilton, reservations required; Cruisin' and Show-N-Shine, 6-10 p.m.; concert, The Legendary Mustangs, 6-9 p.m. Stater Bros. Stage and a movie in Meadowbrook Park at 7 p.m.

* Saturday's vehicle registration begins at 8 a.m., with the Poker Run from 8-10 a.m., and events and entertainment throughout the day, including a bicycle stunt show, kids' crafts, vendors and rides, antique trucks, and 7 p.m. movie at Meadowbrook Park. Model car contests, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Carousel Mall. Continuous music, 1- 10 p.m. on the Stater Bros. Stage.

* Sunday's events, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., include a Run with the Cops, nondenominational church, Cruisin' Show-N-Shine, exhibitors, the Firefighters' Competition from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Parade of Champions Cruise at noon and music from 12:30 p.m.

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