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'Cruise Lyons Avenue' event revs up Newhall revitalization

Man’s goal is to boost Newhall economy with monthly ride

Posted: May 19, 2010 10:59 p.m.
Updated: May 20, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Allison Garneau and Chris Donahue check out a 1939 Chevrolet pickup truck on Wednesday during the "Cruise Lyons Avenue" event in Newhall.

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Newhall residents got a nostalgic glimpse of cruising “American Graffiti”-style Wednesday night as scores of vintage cars rumbled through their community.

Muscle cars of the 1970s, mint-condition pickup trucks built in the ’30s and ’55 Chevrolets that rolled through Newhall more than a half-century ago reappeared to the delight of several onlookers for “Cruise Lyons Avenue.”

The ride from Lyons Avenue to downtown Newhall was the brainchild of car enthusiast Scott Bond.

If a thousand-mile journey begins with one step, then he doesn’t see why the long road to kick-starting the Newhall economy can’t begin with the spin of an old time clunker.

“They’re trying to revive our Old Town Newhall. So what we’re trying to bring is something that is right along the guidelines of Old Town Newhall and that’s why we included (Newhall) in the tour,” Bond said.

The cruise “tour” begins on Lyons at the Valencia Lanes bowling alley and winds its way east to Main Street where all participating vehicles turn right, traveling past many of Newhall’s Main Street storefronts.

If nothing else, bringing 150 custom and refurbished vehicles through the streets of Newhall means increasing traffic through the area by at least 150 vehicles, he said.

The idea being that visiting drivers drive away, leaving some of their money here.

“I live in San Fernando and if I can make it, I’ll make it here every month,” said Mike Iabichella, owner of a pristine cherry red '33 Ford three-window coupe.

He parked his car in the Valencia Lanes parking lot on Lyons next to scores of other beautifully maintained vehicles, specifically between two ’55 Chevrolets and two ’70 Chevelles.

“I fell in love with the ‘55 Chevy when I saw (the movie) American Graffiti,” he said.

“What we would like to have is 150 rat, classic, custom and muscle cars come down and then they’ll go home having enjoyed themselves and then they’ll convince other enthusiasts to come out,” Bond said.

But, that’s the socially relevant spin behind the event.

On a personal level, Bond simply loves old cars and wants to return – for one night every month – to a simpler, happier and, perhaps, economically healthier time cruising down the street on a summer night.

“We’ll be able to cruise the boulevard, gather a little bit and that’s the basis of a cruise,” he said, explaining a “rat car” as any vehicle built from the ground up.

“When I cruised Van Nuys Boulevard, it was in a white 1965 Thunderbird. It was 5 years old. That’s what we’re bringing to Santa Clarita,” he said.

If Newhall is serious about revitalizing its downtown, then Bond, through his group called Fly By Knights, is prepared to make the cruise a regular event, every third Wednesday of every month until October.

It’s his little way of helping the community and, at the same time, bringing back bits of the ’50s, ’60s or, even the ’70s, four wheels at a time.

Anyone wanting to give him feedback about the event can find him easily enough — still driving the 1965 white Thunderbird.

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