By September 5, 2022 0 Comments Read More →

ServiceView – North Modesto Kiwanis

By Steve Perry

American Graffiti Festival. What is that? How did it come to be? Why is traffic so snarled around that event? Who puts it on?

These are all great questions, but, they all root in 1966 at the inception of the charter of the North Modesto Kiwanis Club, who met laughably at the North end of town, by today’s standards becoming another prong in the Kiwanis Modesto presence. As philanthropy is the mission, much like Rotary and Lyons, they began to establish their signature fundraiser. At that time, it was “chicken a go go”. As racy as that could sound in the 1960’s and 70’s, it demurely was a chicken dinner drive through based in Graceada Park (Modesto’s Crown Jewel) where you could get dinners to go, generally prepaid. A big hit and later moved to Davis Park.

As the need for fundraisers increased, the NMK created a Concours D’Elegance car show. But deep down, Modesto was a hot rod town and the home of American Graffiti. The plan began to change the fancy car show, to a Hot Rod show, with a parade. So, MJC East Campus accepted the show, with a Saturday morning parade that wound through downtown Modesto to the show site. This evolved into the much-loved Friday Night Cruise Parade. The location has evolved to Muni Golf course to MJC West Campus.

It takes hundreds of volunteers to manage these shows and present great events. What is the goal? Besides the best car show around, raising money for local charities is what it is all about. The American Graffiti Car Show and Festival has blossomed and attracts people from all over the world.

But one of the questions I get is, “Where does the money go?” It’s a fair question. In general the festival earns over $100,000 per year. There are no salaries paid to anyone involved. It is pure volunteerism and the proceeds go to local charities.

Distribution is in categories; Community Services approximately $8,000 including Hospice, Spiritual $15,000 the largest portion, 1/3 being Christmas distributions for families in need, sponsored youth (Key Clubs) $1,000 high school grad scholarships, $10,000, other youth services including PAL and Boys and Girls Club $7,500, and the list goes on. Essentially, $100, 000 is recharged into LOCAL priorities. National expenses are extracted from member dues.

So, in June, when your travel through downtown or across McHenry is delayed for the parade, relax, smile, put on some great music and smile, knowing your inconvenience will benefit many around you, and that has always been the case. In a crazy modern world, there is still a place for service clubs, this one is stellar.

Please consider joining Kiwanis and help us make a difference.

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.