Car Buffs Defy Elements to Drive VIPs in Festival of Whales Parade

A winter scene that had become all too familiar the past two years around the LCOC Western Region—rain—once again threatened yet another event on Saturday—the annual Dana Point Festival of Whales parade. Yes, yes we are spoiled here in SoCal with weather seldom being a factor in our activity planning.

But at 6:30 a.m. rain was pouring down in south Orange County, with more predicted throughout the day. However, radar scans seemed to show a window of clear weather later lasting a few hours, just long enough to complete the parade. The acid test, the long view out the back window, seemed to confirm the radar scan with blue skies showing off in the distance along the coast.

As predicted, at 7 a.m. the rain stopped and skies began to brighten. I had been advised to stay home and be safe. The parade was going to happen rain or shine. But with my convertible having been slated to drive the mayor of Dana Point and his family in the parade—top down of course—I was going to make every effort to be there.

Armed with a waterproof jacket and several umbrellas I set off into the unknown about 7:30. On arrival at the parade staging area at 8 a.m. my courage was rewarded with dry partly sunny conditions. Three other VIP drivers also arrived and we awaited the parade start.

Serene Dana Point coastline image belied stormy morning.

Scattered rain clouds were still passing overhead, so I hedged my bets by keeping the top up until very close to parade time.

When it became clear that there wouldn’t be rain I activated the switch and the magic ’60s Lincoln top-down process progressed without a hitch. With the 60-year-old technology in play this action always begins on level ground and with a prayer. Luckily, the higher powers were on my side and Dana Point Mayor Jamey Federico, his wife, baby daughter Alexandra and mom Chris were able to take their places in the open car.

In typical Norman Rockwell fashion, this wonderful small town parade started right on time to background chants of “we love whales.” Hundreds of local residents lining the route enjoyed the color guard, military groups, bands, floats, huge marine life balloons, squid on wheels, classic cars and the VIP guests including Cal. State Rep. Laurie Davies who rode in Ted Quinn’s red Mustang convertible.

Jamey, a 22-year marine veteran, and fresh from a very recent knee replacement operation, toughed out the event and happily waved to the crowd including several of his neighbors and friends he called out by name. Baby Alexandra with a tiny American flag joined in the fun.

All too soon the parade ended and what was scheduled to be a 5-club classic car display became an ad hoc group of 4 cars. As drivers, we were treated to a yummy buffet lunch of pizza and salad at Beach Harbor Pizza.

Then we strolled the rows of vendor booths, many of which were pet oriented, as Dana Point is a very popular spot for joggers and dog walkers. Wine for adults and face painting and bounce castles were there for the kids. A good time was had by all.

Driver Robert Miller walks his dogs.

Mother nature wasn’t about to be dismissed completely and by 12:30 storm clouds were rolling in once again. That was my cue to head for home and top up I did hit some light rain on the way but nothing serious. All in all, it was a really fun day, but with our usual sunny days and full car club participation I could see how much more enjoyable it could be next time. Here’s hoping…

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