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15th Annual Hot Rods at the Beach Has Its First Year at San Lorenzo Park

Maybe the show should change its name to 'Hot Rods at the River'

This time last year, San Lorenzo Park was home to Occupy Santa Cruz's tent village, but last Saturday and Sunday, the park was flooded by a very different crowd. 

Custom vintage cars from their proud owners came from all over the state and beyond to San Lorenzo Park for Hot Rods on the Beach, one of Santa Cruz's biggest car shows.

The show has traditionally been held in the parking lot across from the Coconut Grove, and this year was the first that the show was held at the park.

According to secretary of Hot Rods at the Beach and Westside resident Gary McCourt, 61, the show was left scrambling to relocate after the managers at the Boardwalk decided that their lot would be more profitable as a parking lot than a car show. 

"They left us stranded," said McCourt. "I guess it was a business decision. They decided they could make more money charging for parking. They charge like $20 a space lately."

But to the relief of show organizers, the city and county pulled through last minute with permits to hold the show at San Lorenzo park and outside the county courthouse. 

"The number of cars in the show was down, 218 this year, 304 last year," said McCourt. "This economy has a lot to do with that. I think we drew more spectators at the park, perhaps because of the closeness to downtown. Some people were displeased with the park, but most enjoyed it. The main gripe was the wetness of the grass."

Proceeds from the show will benefit the Police Officer's Association scholarship program, which will bring money to high school and middle school industrial arts programs, like wood shop, metal shop, and auto mechanics courses, throughout the county. 

This years show was also one of mourning for many local hot rod enthusiasts.

Carrie McCoid, who was director of Hot Rods on the Beach for 14 consecutive years, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly due to health problems earlier this month.

A portion of the proceeds from the show and a benefit dinner held Saturday night, will go to benefit McCoid's family and young children.

Vintage car restoration is usually considered a man's activity, but not for Maurene Andrade, 62, who came to the show in her 1957 Chevy, which she restored from the ground up.

Andrade said she bought the car in 2004 for $1,500, and meticulously rebuilt it over the next 11 months.

"I completely redid the wiring and everything, I redid the car, 100%," she said. "I hand-wired all the connections, then I sandblasted it down to the metal."

The Chevy, now clean and customized from the inside out, is Andrade's proof that vintage car restoration is not just for men.

"Ive always loved cars," Andrade said. "What happened was, when I first got this car, one of the men in our neighborhood fried all the wiring. He fooled around with the baluster on the firewall, and he crisscrossed the wiring, and it all broke. So after that I said 'No man is gonna touch my car!'"

"They all laughed at me and said 'You can't do this car,' and I said 'You want to bet?' So I did."

If the show continues to be held at San Lorenzo park in coming years, perhaps it will have to change its name to 'Hot Rods at the River.'

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