Cool Cruise turns downtown La Verne into hot rod heaven

More than 500 custom classic cars converged in downtown La Verne on Saturday to strut their stuff for the annual Cool Cruise car show.

Cal State Long Beach student T.J. Mills checks out a 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air owned by Doc Conroy of West Covina. It was one of hundreds of customized and restored cars on display at the annual Cool Cruise car show in downtown La Verne on Saturday. Mills attended the show with his father, Bruce Mills, who owns a sky blue and white 1956 Bel Air. / photo by Nicholas Mitzenmacher

Ashley Morgado
Staff Writer

Car enthusiasts displayed their loud engines and waxed their sparkling paint jobs to resemble a time of cool cats and hot Betties.

The annual Cool Cruise car show revved up at 10 a.m. on Saturday, but participants started parking their grease lightnings at 7:30 a.m.

To get the afternoon off to a great start, the classic rock ’n‘ roll band The Answer starting playing the hits for the dedicated spectators.

The event was started by La Verne Public Works employee L.D. Johnson and other city staff members in 2000 and has since expanded to one of Southern California’s premiere hot rod events.

“It’s one of the better car events that I’ve seen,” said Mark Breves, a T-shirt vendor for the event.

Initially Cool Cruise was brought to La Verne to promote the quiet Old Town La Verne downtown business area in hopes of attracting new customers.

The first event had such great feedback, that the La Verne City Council hired Johnson as an event promoter and authorized it to be an annual event.

Because of its popularity, this ever-expanding event brings all ages out to marvel at the beautiful custom creations.

“It’s everything from newborns to 88-year-olds,” said San Dimas resident Sherry Taylor.

Taylor has been coming to this event for years and said it’s a family tradition. Generation after generation in her family, the boys have all found a love for racing and fixing up hot rods.

“It’s in their blood,” Taylor said.

Now, only a few of the younger family members still race, but the majority of the family just come out to shows like the Cool Cruise to show off their award winning rides and spend some quality time with loved ones.

“He comes down here so the family can be together,” Taylor said, referring to her brother who owns one of the gorgeous cars. “It’s getting bigger every year, but I really enjoy it. Another great thing about the event is it welcomes everyone, whether you own a classic car or not.”

“We love looking at the old cars,” said Lucy Bacio, the parent of a ULV student. “We would love to have one, if we could afford it, but it’s just nice to come out to look at all the cars.”

For the people who do own the classic hot-rods, they enjoy the event because of the space and location.

“It’s awesome because it’s local,” Iris Leon, owner of a 1956 Bel-Air, said. “I love all these cars.”

“It’s a very nice area, and they’ve got the room,” Taylor said.

Whatever the reason to venture out and take a trip down hot-rod lane, everyone was pleased.

Not one person could complain because the weather and sites were a perfect “cool” temperature. Well, except maybe one person.

“I wish I had more time to look at all the cool cars, they all look good,” event helper Jason Jewell said.

He was a little too busy dealing with the raffle and was disappointed that he did not get the chance to check out all the cars.

If you happened to miss your chance to check out the amazing custom creations, the event happens every Saturday before Easter.

It is free admission to spectators and it’s $35 to pre-register a car or truck and $10 to pre-register a motorcycle. To get more information on this event contact Cool Cruise at 909-593-6208.

Ashley Morgado can be reached at

Nicholas Mitzenmacher

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