Could it really be that 13 years have gone by since that first-ever Palos Heights Classic Car Event rolled onto Harlem Avenue?
Hundreds of vintage vehicles will be cruising into town for the 13th annual Palos Heights Classic Car Event next Thursday, July 21, from 5 to 9 p.m., on Harlem Avenue in downtown Palos Heights. Details about the autofest can be found in our special section inside this week’s Regional News.
Event Chairman Bob Starzyk expect anywhere from 300 to 500 cars to be on display, everyting from the Model T Ford to muscle cars of the 1960s and ‘70s that are now classics with the passage of time since they rolled off the Detroit assembly line.
For years now, Starzyk has taken the lead role in organizing the Classic Car Event after it was handed off to him by Glenn Kraemer and others who designed such a spectacular event for Palos Heights. It took off that very first year on that August night when it was first held more than a decade ago. To Lou Elsner, it proved that Palos Heights’ Harlem Avenue could be a real destination for people to come dine or shop in Palos Heights’ downtown.
Harlem provides a wonderful atmosphere as the outdoor amphitheater for the popular autofest. The shining cars, rolling works of art that are on display, may be the stars of the show. But they support a cast of featured players that also shine the night of the annual event. Community groups and local businesses sell food or offer their own giveaways and restaurants open their doors for what all hope to be a busy night serving hundreds of customers who save their appetite for the big show.
The Classic Car Event rivals the Fourth of July parade as the attraction that bring the most people to Harlem Avenue. We just saw one of the biggest, well-attended Independence Day parade in Palos Heights’ history last week. And the crowds will return in similar numbers next Thursday. Not only residents, but those of nearby suburbs enjoy the car show year after year.
The car show typically draws upwards of 7,000 people, our reporter Dermot Connolly reports in this week’s special section. Admission is free for spectators, but people showing cars are asked to make a donation of at least $10 per car. At bottom the car show is a fundraiser for the city’s Beautification Committee and its many good causes.
The event committee’s drawing for a Split the Pot raffle with $10,000 will be held. Tickets are $2 each and will sold during the event. Winners must be at least 18 years old, but need be present.
It’s a very good time that serves a very good cause, but it is not possible without the work of people like Bob Starzyk and his committee and the many volunteers who work the event, selling raffle tickets or otherwise staffing the event, doing all the odd jobs that make it possible. We at The Regional salute and commend them for their continual public spiritedness on display along with the autos year after year. Folks like Jean Gnap, Ed and Mary Dombrowski, Eileen Lunter, Lois Duran, and countless others who also deserve to be singled out for praise.
Police, public works and other city departments and city officials also deserve credit and praise for their respective roles in making the event happen year after year. Mayor Bob Straz and the City Council have given their utmost support for the event since its inception, support that has led to the event’s continuing success. While Harlem Avenue remains open during the event, traffic usually slows to a crawl as motorists take in the sights along the way. Police will be directing traffic at intersections to make sure pedestrians can safely cross the busy street.
What more can we say? The car show is an event that does Palos Heights proud. Wandering Harlem next Thursday, stop by and say hello to Charles Richards, our longtime former publisher, who will be outside our front door facing 123rd Street manning our table. As for this writer, the editor can say, see ya on Harlem.