Classic cars, kids, cops and community congregate in Downtown Brea

Gabe Larson

Community building and charity were created at the second annual Brea Holiday Car Show. The event was a combination of raising toys for the underprivileged, promoting local small businesses and enjoying the sights and sounds of Detroit iron.

The promoter of the car show was Craig Hoelzel, a Palm Springs resident with a love for classic cars and community building. Hoelzel is the Director of Special Promotions for Flying Deuces, a car show event planning and promoting company.

1959 Olds 98
A 1959 Oldsmobile 98 was on display in Downtown Brea for the 2019 Brea Holiday Car Show. Photo credit: Gabe Larson

According to Hoelzel, over 280 classic cars, 32 vendors and hundreds of curious spectators packed Birch St. in Downtown Brea.

Hoelzel stated that he organized the car show to promote the small businesses on Birch St. and convert Downtown Brea into a hub of activity for the community members.

“We do this show in conjunction with the Brea Downtown Owners Association, and they appreciate us,” stated Hoelzel. “I’ve been [promoting car shows] for 45 years, and I just love cars. The car show brings people to the area, and [the local businesses do] well.”

Most of the businesses and restaurants along Birch Street in Downtown Brea were open and inviting car show attendees to support their places of business.

Among the 32 vendors on the streets with the classic cars were local hot rod shops, automotive specialists, home improvement companies and small businesses from the area.

Along with the car show, California Highway Patrol held their annual CHiPs for Kids Toy Drive on the corner of Birch Street and Brea Boulevard, in order to provide enough toys for underprivileged children whose families can’t afford toys this coming Christmas.

According to CHP Officer Florentino Olivera, over 10,000 toys were raised and will be given away this coming Dec. 21 at the CHP office in Santa Ana.

California Highway Patrol Toy Drive
The California Highway Patrol received over 10,000 donated toys from car show attendees. Photo credit: Gabe Larson

Santa Claus was even in attendance sitting in front of Edwards movie theater, taking photos with children and listening to their Christmas wishes.

Car shows put on by Flying Deuces in are most of the few community bonding events that occur in Downtown Brea.

“It does a lot for the community,” said Flying Deuces employee Ron Olsen. “They wouldn’t come out of this town; they fall asleep in this town at night…This is a sleepy neighborhood.”

Olsen’s duty throughout the car show was to supervise the competition judges inspecting each vehicle to ensure no personal biases were expressed in their vehicle evaluations.

Despite the isolated location of the car show, it didn’t stop many Southern Californians from bringing their screamin’ machines to the show.

Manuel Nunez and his girlfriend drove their 1955 Pontiac Chieftain from Alhambra to partake in the renown charity event.

1955 Pontiac
Manuel Nunez (right) talks about his 1955 Pontiac with Ron Olsen (left) Photo credit: Gabe Larson

“This is our first time in Brea,” stated Nunez. ‘We brought some toys to donate; that’s why we mainly wanted to be here. … We just wanted to get out and meet other car people; we enjoy it.”

Another out of town gear head was Randy McDaniel of Yorba Linda, who drove his custom 1951 Mercury lead sled. McDaniel brought his car to be part of the festive Christmas themed event and support the kids benefiting from the CHiPs Toy Drive.

Despite the record turnout compared to last year’s holiday car show, Olsen was very adamant about the encouragement for younger car enthusiasts.

“The younger generation has to step it up,” Olsen asserted. “They need to follow and learn about classics and keep the tradition going…the older guys are dying, cars are getting sold off out of the country, and the younger generation should try to keep it alive.”