Historic Downtown Murrieta will serve as the backdrop for the city’s first Rod Run.
Event organizers received the go-ahead Tuesday from Murrieta City Council to hold the event Friday, Nov. 8 and Saturday, Nov. 9 along Washington Avenue between Ivy and Kalmia streets.
“We feel the downtown district lends itself to what the cars represent,” said Pat Vesey, founder of The Drifters Car Club and a longtime organizer of the Temecula Rod Run.
Vesey said he and partner, Ray Wate ran the biannual event for several years as the P & R Foundation, but that Wate had relocated to Texas. The City of Temecula recently appointed a committee to coordinate its next Rod Run in spring 2014.
In the meantime, Vesey, who has been known to volunteer for the Murrieta Father's Day Car Show, said he had approached the City of Murrieta about doing a fall Rod Run.
“The guys really like the weather in the fall,” said Vesey, referring to the more than 140 members of The Drifters Car Club that he founded locally in the 1990s.
With Council approval—which came after a lengthy discussion—Rod Run organizers will get up to $5,000 in in-kind services from the city for the signature event. These include fee waivers and police services.
The same is done for Murrieta’s other signature event, the Tour de Murrieta.
The hope is that it will be a boon to the merchants of Historic Downtown Murrieta, with an estimated crowd of 30,000 expected.
“The restaurants in Historic Downtown should have a very good weekend,” said Assistant City Manager Jim Holston.
Councilman Randon Lane said it was a small investment “into an incredible opportunity.”
“We might have 30,000 people in Historic Downtown Murrieta,” Lane said. “I don’t think we have ever had 30,000 people in Historic Downtown Murrieta.”
Free for the public to attend, the event will kick off from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 8 with a cruise along Washington Avenue, then run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 9.
Revenue from vendor spaces being rented at $275 or $375 apiece will be donated entirely to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southwest County. The nonprofit organization plans to use the money to repair its Murrieta clubhouse.
In April, the nonprofit organization launched a citywide campaign to raise $100,000 in donations for the repairs. That has resulted in donations totaling $15,000, which was used to replace the cabinets in the kitchen as well as paint the interior of the modular clubhouse that has been located at California Oaks Sports Park for more than two decades.
“We are going to stretch every penny as much as we can...but $100,000 would allow us to do all the things we have to do,” said Maryann Edwards, president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southwest Riverside County.
The clubhouse’s restrooms need to be gutted and replaced, and there is corroded fascia and railing, according to Edwards, who also serves a Temecula City Council member.
A sticking point Tuesday for some Murrieta City Council members, however, was whether the Murrieta Rod Run should automatically renew as an annual signature event.
Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Bennett suggested doing a trial run the first year.
“I want to see something big and wonderful and successful, there is no doubt about that,” Bennett said. “...What I would suggest is that if this goes forward, we also receive input from local businesses to see what the results were.”
Council members ultimately agreed and added a clause stipulating that organizers and city staff return to them with results.
One member of the public, Diana Serafin, spoke during the meeting.
“I am really excited about the car show,” said Serafin, who rents a space at a consignment store in Historic Downtown. “The buzz down there is everybody is excited.”
But Serafin said she was opposed to local businesses being charged the full vendor rate.
“The city must support small business in our community,” Serafin said.
She suggested waiving the fee for local businesses, and also said Rod Run organizers should have to pay the city permit fee, stating that otherwise, it was taxpayer money that was being used.
Holston clarified that the $5,000 in-kind services were not “cash out” from the city, and that anything over that amount, such as for added police presence, would be billed to organizers.
Vesey, a 70-year-old retiree, said he was delighted with where the money would be going. He explained that The Drifters Car Club will not handle any vendor or participants payments. That is all being handled by the Boys & Girls Club, which ensures transparency, he said.
The fee to enter a car—up to 500 entries will be accepted— is $30 for model year 1975 or older, with that money going to support the Boys & Girls Club, as well. (Other cars will be considered; more information can be found on Murrietarodrun.com.)
“I have had a good life and I don’t mind giving back,” Vesey said. “The kids are the future of everything. If we bring kids up right and they have a good place to go and good examples, I think the world is going to be a better place.”
Members of the Historic Downtown Murrieta Association are looking forward to the event.
“We are not sponsoring the Rod Run at all but some of us will be participating,” said Connie McConnell, HDMA president. “This is probably going to be one of the larger events; hopefully we will get more people down here, people who live on the other side of Murrieta and just don’t know we are here.”