Leanna McConnaughy was 38 when she died suddenly in February 2010 and her passing left a void in the the hearts of her family, friends and co-workers, fellow Murrieta police dispatchers.
Though only a resident for about six years before she died, her spirit and love for Murrieta was reflected in her parents' decision to enter a car in the city’s 42nd Annual Car Father’s Day Car Show, held Sunday at
“It is only fitting to be here on Father’s Day," said her mother, Jan McConnaughy. "Leanna would have loved this."
Jan and Leanna's father, Bud, said they knew they could never fill the void left by their daughter's death but found solace in restoring a 1957 Buick Special Riviera they bought not long after her death.
“We feel her presence whenever we drive [the car]."
McConnaughy was a dispatcher for the .
She began working for the City in 2004; in 2006, she was named the Murrieta police "Civilian Employee of the Year."
The following year, she won the California Public Safety Radio Association's "Dispatcher of Year" award, according to her parents.
Murrieta Mayor Doug McAllister said the car show brings people together on a special day.
“This is what it’s all about,” McAllister said.
"It’s a holiday, yet so many people choose to spend the day here with us.” McAllister was on hand to give the “Mayor’s Choice” award and walked the length of the entire show -- more than 300 vehicles -- to make his selection.
"Mayor’s Choice" went to a 1950s Oldsmobile convertible owned by Dave Munon and "Best in Show" was awarded to a 1929 Ford Model A two-door sedan owned by Dewayne Maddox of Apple Valley.
“We have over 105,000 people [in Murrieta], but it's days like today that make it feel like a small town again,” McAllister said.
More than 40 awards were handed out and this year, organizers tried something new.
“We’re doing what’s called Dad’s Top 25,” said city special events Coordinator Laura Frasso.
The 25 top cars in the show received one of those awards. Another new addition was the Best Father/Son Project, Frasso said.