This story starts in 1990 when the San Bernardino Convention & Visitors Bureau's (SBCVB) “Route 66 Rendezvous” was a classic car show of one and half days duration*. Since then the event has grown significantly to where this year there were over 1650 cars shown, and over 500,000 spectators drawn to a four day event. The distinguishing feature of this car show is that it is a “cruising car show” and participants not only display their ride in a designated area, but also have the flexibility to cruise around the 35 blocks that are cordoned off and delight spectators with the sights and sounds of high performance engines and chrome in motion.
So what is all the fuss about this year? Well, San Bernardino filed for bankruptcy protection on August 1st, 2012 citing more than $1 billion of debts and making it the third California city to seek protection from creditors. This was only 6 weeks before the Rendezvous and the SBCVB, headed by CEO Wayne Austin, received a call from the Mayor with the news that the city was pulling resources from the event. As with most car shows, volunteers make up the majority of the event organization, but there is still a huge bill associated with the professional security, health and safety (ambulance and fire), and crews required to clean up.
* Route 66 runs through San Bernardino along what is now E Street and is prominently mentioned in Bobby Troup’s immortal 1946 hit song, “Get your kicks on Route 66”