The La Mesa City Council on May 24 gave the green light to sponsoring the City of La Mesa Classic Car Show on La Mesa Boulevard on eight Thursdays, starting July 7; the shows will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. through August 25. Entertainment will consist of a band or DJ at three La Mesa Boulevard locations, one west of Spring Street and two east of Spring.
The council voted 4-0 (councilwoman Kristine Alessio was absent) to allocate an estimated $15,000 for the city to assume management and operation of the car and motorcycle show previously run by the La Mesa Village Merchants Association.
The city will “actively [engage] sponsors for the car show and expects a portion of the costs to be offset by contributions from these sponsorships,” according to a report from the city manager’s department.
If the city doesn’t recover all costs through sponsorships, funds will come from an account in the 2016–2017 budget. The report stated that city manager David Witt will recommend a $50,000 “placeholder” in fiscal year 2016–2017 midyear budget “for the purpose of downtown promotions and events.”
The May 24 vote stemmed from the council’s March 24 strategic-planning workshop. One goal set was for the city to become “more involved in the planning of downtown events,” assistant city manager Yvonne Garrett said at the meeting.
New this year is the lack of food and beverage vendors, so car enthusiasts patronize brick-and-mortar businesses, according to the report.
Senior management analyst Lyn Dedmon said the display of vehicles will be similar to past car shows. Cars will be parked on La Mesa Boulevard, and motorcycles will be displayed on Palm Avenue from Allison Avenue south to La Mesa Boulevard.
The approximately $15,000 allocation includes $4000 for contractor Jack Leary, owner of Jump’n Jack Flash Entertainment and Productions, “to coordinate and manage” the car shows and $3500 for staffing by two police officers to work four hours each Thursday evening. The allocation also covers the cost of entertainment, “creating a new identity” for the car show and marketing it, providing restroom facilities, and purchasing 64 trophies. The city will continue the tradition of awarding trophies, with six awarded at each show. (The merchants’ association’s award categories were: four car trophies, one for motorcycles, and a police officers’ choice award.)
Dedmon said city “staff is proposing some enhancements” for the car show that include creating new branding and logos, “more significant trophies,” and “possibly” recognition of trophy winners at a council meeting.
The city’s agreement between Leary and the city provides the option to extend the term for one year so Leary would manage the 2017 car show; this would be at the city manager’s discretion. In addition, the agreement gives the police chief the right to modify the level of law-enforcement services.
Dedmon said Leary approached the city about managing the car show. According to the report, Leary has been performing at and managing car shows for 23 years. He managed the past three La Mesa Village Merchants Association car shows.
The association’s “Back to the ’50s Car & Bikes Show” was in its 23rd year in 2014. The association cancelled the 2015 show because of the streetscaping project on La Mesa Boulevard from Spring Street to Fourth Street, “which is in the heart of our car show,” according to the group’s website.
The city’s now-completed Streetscape project caused disruptions downtown. In April, the Reader also reported that the association owed the city $47,900 in services provided for Oktoberfest 2015. The matter was sent to collection.
I first visited a La Mesa car show in 2013. Among others, I spoke to a father and his young son. They posed by their hotrod and the boy showed off his muscles.