Get ready for the roar of engines and the gleam of chrome to take over downtown Modesto again as the Graffiti Classic Car Parade returns Friday.
The event is among the highlights of a the month-long Graffiti Summer celebration of native son George Lucas' seminal film "American Graffiti" and the Central Valley's longtime love affair with cars.
The cruise and attached weekend-long American Graffiti Festival, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, are both organized by the North Modesto Kiwanis Club. The parade begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday, and will loop through downtown Modesto, up McHenry Avenue and back.
For the first time since returning to McHenry Avenue in 2014, the route will go north past Orangeburg Avenue six blocks up to in front of the McHenry Village before turning around.
Event chairman Brent Burnside said the route was extended to alleviate gridlock caused by the some 1,000 cars that participate annually. This year about 100 more vehicles have registered for the festival's car show, which is expected to draw about 1,300 classic cars and hot rods from 1979 or older, and they are all eligible to drive in the parade.
People start putting out chairs early Friday morning for the event, which can see spectators several rows deep in some parts. Burnside estimates the parade draws about 25,000 to 30,000 spectators each year.
City streets will begin closing at 3 p.m. in the downtown area, along I and J streets between 10th and 17th streets. McHenry to Orangeburg Avenue will begin shutting down at the same time. Then, around 5 p.m., the rest of McHenry Avenue to just south of Briggsmore Avenue will be blocked to traffic. The streets will remain closed until 10 p.m. Friday.
The American Graffiti Festival and Car Show will run from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday at the Municipal Golf Course, 400 Tuolumne Blvd. Also this weekend on Sunday will be the Gallo Center's Graffiti Summer Concert, which features classic crooner Frankie Avalon.
Also on the Graffiti Summer schedule are MoBand's Modesto Graffiti concert Thursday evening at Graceada Park, a "Grease" sing along June 16 at the State Theatre, the Modesto Nuts Graffiti Night celebration June 16 at John Thurman Field, the 25th annual Back to Graffiti event June 16 at the Fruit Yard and the 11th annual Rod & Custom Car Show on June 24 at the Elks Lodge.