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Modesto Top Stories for 2013

Modesto’s Top Stories for 2013 By Chris Murphy

Greetings Modesto Friends! As we sit here on the brink of 2013 and we look forward to how our lives will change over the next 365 days, we look back to 2012 and see that we have accomplished. If you read the morning local newspaper, 7 out of 10 “top stories” were negative. That is not the way I look at Modesto and it is not the way ModestoView looks at the greater Modesto area. Most of the bad stuff is the same bad stuff that happens in cities all over the USA. What is the “top” is what make us “better”, what makes us “different” and what makes Modesto USA a truly unique place in the US of A and the beacon of central California. This year, the Modesto Architecture Festival brought people from all over the world, downtown is a place for Marathons and festivals like X Fest and Love Modesto and more and more people are really working hard to make sure that Civic Pride is Served Daily! You can always find something good about Modesto at

Here are our top 10 for 2012!

#1 The Historic Cruise Route is built! For the first time since 1992, the city, the Chamber and the people of Modesto have rallied together to make sure that our American Graffiti heritage is important and celebrated to our citizens, our visitors and to our authentic heritage. The Modesto Historic Cruise route was created and spearheaded by Chris Murphy and was supported by Modesto City Management and was financially supported by our local business community. Now we have a 25 kiosk historical and educational walk around downtown’s 10th and 11th Streets, the streets of the legendary cruise. A true team effort with amazing support from the Cruise Route committee of Josh Bridegroom, Margaret James, Laurie Smith, Jennifer Mullen, Nancy young and Greg Nyhoff with great design support from Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group, ModestoView and City Signs. If you haven’t walked this interesting walk of history, you should do it today.

#2 Graffiti Summer and Graffiti Cruise Parade get huge! Over 22,000 people lined the streets for the Annual American Graffiti Car Show Cruise Parade. The Cruise parade served as the ribbon cutting for the Historic Cruise Route and was the inaugural event to induct the Modesto Legends of the Cruise. Nearly 1000 cars circled the streets of downtown Modesto while bands played and people lined the streets celebrated our Graffiti Heritage. 2012 was the 50th anniversary of the Class of ’62 that was immortalized in George Lucas’ film American Graffiti and the Modesto and Downey class reunions were extra special this year. George Lucas attended his Downey Class reunion this year and was welcomed by his schoolmates and childhood friends. The season capped off with the announcement that George Lucas would be the Grand Marshall for the 2013 Graffiti Car Show Cruise Parade. Gene Winfield, Wendy Lucas, Bo Hopkins, Candy Clark and Paul LeMat were honored as Legends of the Cruise by Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh. The Graffiti time has come to Modesto USA.

#3 Colin Kaepernick goes big! The 49’ers are on fire and the excitement is coming from locally grown Colin Kaepernick. He has lit up our fan base, lit up the football field and has an inspirational message and may be a true model of what a professional sports star can be. His career is still young, but it has all the makings of long term success and shows what hard work and family dedication can do. You see this every day at in water polo games, basketball and cross country. Our local athletes are doing a good job of blending athletics, academics and family strength. You can see what happens when these don’t work together. Congrats to Colin.

#4 Jeremy Renner and Modesto stars go big! Modesto hometown heroes are really making a difference. From Glee to Lucasfilm to the legendary animators of Disney, the Modesto mark is seen made globally. Jeremy Renner is now a successful film superstar. The Bourne Legacy and Mission Impossible delivered him to the top of the charts and it is good to see this kind of success and someone proud to call Modesto home. Tim Olyphant is also making Modesto proud on TV and film and Robert Ulrich continues to change the face of Hollywood and local musicians are on the verge of making it big. Grandaddy was back with a huge festival world tour and Lindsey Pavao made it to the very top of TV’s The Voice and was celebrated with a MAMA Award at the 2012 MAMA Awards. We can expect great things from our local creative talent this year in 2013. Look for great things from Good Luck Thrift Store, Solar Powered People, Josh Rosenblum, Stop Motion Poetry and so many more local artists.

#5 The Historic McHenry Mansion is restored It is sad that it takes a tragic event like the near destruction of a historic place to make people realize how important it is. But in 2012, the McHenry Mansion is back and more beautiful than ever. Under the watchful guidance of historian Wayne Mathes, the McHenry Mansion was repaired and rebuilt in the spirit of its original construction. The McHenry Mansion was one of the most popular photographs that were tagged #modestoview this year from people both local and from out of town. See our January issue for ways to get involved with the McHenry Mansion and the McHenry Museum and keep our traditions alive.

#6 Gene Winfield Chops 9 cars in 9 weeks Modesto Native and classic car legend gets more world famous all the time. He is a worldwide favorite and car shows and at 84 is still creating classic cars. Gene was on fire this summer at his shop, and was the feature of our June ModestoView Interview issues as we geared up for our Graffiti Summer. From his original “chicken coop” shop behind his mom’s house on Figaro, to his famous shop at 451 Tully, Gene Winfield revolutionized what it meant to modify and paint classic cars. His Jade Idol and other car creations for movie and TV have made Winfield Equipped one of the greatest automotive status symbols around. Gene is currently on a tour where he chops and paints 9 cars in 9 weeks at car shows all over the USA. He recently has made a few custom guitars, one of which will find its home here in Modesto.

#7 The Modesto Arch is Restored This was one of the most fun and Modesto wide projects that showcased how many people love the town they live in. From small businesses to large, from single volunteers to the electrical union and countless people that reached out and to the news crews that found the excitement of what was happening, the restoration brought people from far and wide to the epic relighting party on October 26. Thousands of people packed the streets while 100 years of cars drove under the new arch, and bands played that represented 100 years of Modesto history. It was a great night for Modesto and it shows what a commitment to civic pride can do. Thanks to the Mike Moradian, Modesto Chamber and the City Manager for the leadership on this project.

#8 Ag remains a top export Around 60% of the global processed tomato production comes from our area. Modesto and Stanislaus county grow nearly every crop possible and our Almond and Walnut crops lead the world and our whole agricultural economy delivered billions (yes BILLIONS) of economic benefit to our community. So when we talk about sewer, water run off, water supply, you realize how very important it is for us to protect and keep our water and make sure that we have policies that encourage new food production of both the traditional fruit and vegetable and the future like soy, dairy and non-seaonal food production. The food we grow keeps us financially strong and independent from the big metro economies. Let’s keep that in mind when we talk about growth.

#9 Stanislaus County finally gets highway funding We need the roads and freeways to support our business and food economy and the 132 Freeway connecting us to I-5 is a strategic lifeline. It is about time that we start to receive funding for freeway and highway infrastructure. It is even more amazing since we are not a “self help” county where we have matching funds for construction projects. Building our infrastructure is one of the most important investments we can make to make sure that Modesto and Stanislaus County are positioned of future economic strength. Priority 1- 132, Priority 2 – Connecting North Country Corridor to east side economy and Beard, Priority 3 rebuild our gridlocked freeway interchanges and we need to be a Self Help County ASAP. These will help the whole county.

#10 Modesto Celebrates 100 in many ways. The Modesto Chamber of Commerce turned 100 this year. The Modesto Theatre (Copper Rhino) on 10th St was built in 1912. The McHenry Museum (then the McHenry Library) was built in 1912 and there were many other 100 year celebrations this year. This is important just because of the number of years, but what it showcased is that Modesto was a culturally vibrant city in 1912. We had many theaters, we had lots of culture, our ag economy and our irrigation system made Modesto a wealthy town as is became one of the worlds largest food producing areas. Today in 2012, we realize that we are still creatively vibrant and are still the center of agricultural production and are still the crossroads of the central Valley of California. This anniversary was celebrated by a wonderful painting by local Modesto artist Rebecca Murphy commemorating so many of our important milestones.

As we look forward to 2013, we must keep our focus on what makes Modesto better and different. We need to support our 3rd Thursday Artwalks, rally more people to volunteer for Love Modesto, encourage more races and festivals into Downtown Modesto. We must develop our Downtown Modesto Hospitality zone for economic growth and find more ways to get our youth involved so we have an active all ages city.

Things we love: MoBand X fest Thursday Night Ramble Art Walk All Ages Events School Sports Art Classes Classic Community Murals of Graffiti History Modesto Marathon Love Modesto Graffiti Summer Hanging out with friends Great Locally owned restaurants Rockabilly – the original music of Modesto Shiny tailfins and chrome grills Bike lanes Smart urban planning Tactical urbanism Parklets And the list goes on.



Posted in: news

About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.