Car Show Honors First Responders

(David Dierks, Photographer)
Bill Merkel’s 2005 Dodge Viper Copperhead Roadster appeared at the 2018 Orinda Classic Car Show.

    After transforming into a virtual car tour in 2020, the annual Orinda Classic Car Show is back in person for the 17th 
   “It’s tradition that we hold it the Saturday after Labor Day,” said car show’s Co-Chair Bill Waterman. “This year that ended up being the 20th anniversary of 9/11, so we wanted to pay tribute to first responders.”
   The organizers hope to have several vintage first responder vehicles on display to honor those who risked their lives on 9/11 and continue doing so every day. In addition, food will be available via a vintage fire engine-turned-pizza oven run by Orinda’s own Fourth Bore Tap Room and Grill.
   Though many local firefighters have been called away to fight the Dixie Fire, they, and all others who cannot attend the event in person, can watch the show via a livestream video. It will be accessible at An edited video will be posted on YouTube following the event as well.
   “We’re most excited to be having an actual show again,” said Waterman. “This is our 17th year doing it, and we’re happy to have a sense of normalcy again, though we’ll still be pretty careful.”
   The car show, which in the past has featured vehicles ranging from 1920s and ‘30s vintages to modern exotics, will be Saturday, Sept. 11, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will be held outdoors – spread across Orinda Way and Avenida de Orinda – but masks are still 
   Cars shown come from all over the Bay Area, not just Lamorinda, but all money raised by the event goes towards supporting The Orinda Association’s Seniors Around Town, an essential program that provides Orinda seniors with free door-to-door rides.
   “There’ll be between 170 and 190 vehicles,” said Waterman. “We’ll have some outstanding, and certainly some unusual, if not rare, cars.”
   John Anderson estimates he’s been involved with the car show for 15 years with his 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air sedan, named Emily. For him, it is an opportunity to connect with fellow car-lovers.
   “She’s been with me for 45 years,” said Anderson. “But, I learn something new almost every show – about [her] or one of my other cars.”
   This year’s show has been shortened to only one day, meaning no “Dancing with the Cars” fundraiser on Friday or Sunday car movies. But organizers, who have been preparing for the show since January, still have lots of fun planned.
   The winners of Lamorinda Idol will perform live from 12 – 1 p.m. in a concert that is sure to be a blast. There will also be raffles, car show t-shirt sales, and Loard’s ice cream available for purchase.
   Though there are different types of things to do at the show, the cars are the main event. Every car has its own fascinating history and unique qualities that owners are eager to share.
   “Many of the car owners provided me with stories about their cars,” said Steve Harwood, who co-hosted last year’s car tour. “I was struck by the passion … and the enthusiasm they had for all cars.”
   The best part about the show, said Anderson, is “reminiscing with people about their first cars. I think almost everyone has good memories about their first car.”
   For those interested, the show is still accepting vehicle registrations and donations to Seniors Around Town. Both donation forms can be found on the Orinda Classic Car Show website, Any questions should be directed to Bill Waterman at

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