Long before director George Lucas ever dreamed up the "Star Wars" series or thought about Indiana Jones, his life was all about cars.
As a teenager in Modesto, he worked as a mechanic and cruised 10th Street in his Fiat Biancina.
A little more than a decade after graduating from Downey High School in 1962, he drew on his experiences in co-writing his first hit film, "American Graffiti."
The movie follows several teens on their last day of freedom before college. The then-unknown stars included Ron Howard, Harrison Ford, Richard Dreyfuss, Cindy Williams, Mackenzie Phillips and Suzanne Somers.
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Now every June, Modesto and some of its surrounding city neighbors celebrate that more innocent time with Graffiti Summer, a month's worth of classic-car shows, concerts and camaraderie. Get out a red pen and circle the events you want to attend.
AMERICAN GRAFFITI CAR SHOW AND FESTIVAL: Check out more than 650 vintage show cars, all made before 1973, at the North Modesto Kiwanis' American Graffiti Car Show and Festival.
The event kicks off with an evening car parade. The following two days are the festival, with 100 vendors selling food and crafts, kids games and three stages with live oldies music, DJs and acts. Performers include The Sensations, Hot Rods Band and the Kyle Barker Band. More than 12,000 people are expected to attend. All proceeds go to local charities.
Special guest Saturday is George Barris, the "King of Kustomizers," in the ARC Audio Alley. His designs include the Batmobile, which he'll have with him; Greased Lightning ("Grease"); the General Lee ("Dukes of Hazard"); the Munster Coach and more.
WHEN: Parade 7 p.m. June 12; festival 9 a.m.-5 p.m. June 13 and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. June 14
WHERE: Parade downtown Modesto. Festival Modesto Junior College East Campus, 435 College Ave.
TICKETS: Parade free; festival $7 adults, free to children 12 and under; $2-off coupons available at parade and other locations
"GREASE: THE SINGALONG VERSION": You know all the words to the "Grease" soundtrack. So after watching the car parade in downtown Modesto, sing along with Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta to "Summer Nights" and "We Go Together" in this special singalong version of the hit 1978 film.
WHEN: 8:30 p.m. June 12
WHERE: State Theatre, 1307 J St., Modesto
"SEE THE SOUNDTRACK," "TRIBUTE TO MOTOWN": Get into the golden-oldie spirit by attending two concerts at the Gallo Center for the Arts.
First up is "See the Soundtrack." Several retro bands perform some of the greatest hits from the film "American Graffiti," including "Why do Fools Fall in love," "Love Potion #9," "Sixteen Candles," and "Come Go With Me." Performers are The Diamonds, Bill Hayley's Comets, The Teenagers Tribute Groups, The Clovers Tribute Group and the American Gold Band.
The next show is "A Tribute to the Motown Era." Performers include Peaches and Herb ("Reunited," "Let's Fall in Love," The Original Elgins ("Uncle Sam's Man"), and tribute acts for Sam Cooke ("You Send Me") and The Temptations ("My Girl").
WHEN:"See the Soundtrack" 8 p.m. June 13; "Tribute to Motown" 8 p.m. June 19
WHERE: Rogers Theater, Gallo Center for the Arts, 1000 I St., Modesto
TICKETS: "Soundtrack" is $28-$65; "Motown" is $35-$65
MODESTO BLUES FESTIVAL: The Modesto Blues Festival moves from Graceada Park across town to the King-Kennedy Memorial Center this year. Performers include the Mofo Party Band, Mercury Blues band, Highway 61, Ron Hacker and the Hacksaws and Big Earl and the Cryin' Shame. There will also be a hot-rod and custom bike show.
WHEN: 12-8 p.m. June 27
WHERE: King-Kennedy Memorial Center, Mellis Park, 601 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Modesto
A CARLOAD OF EVENTS: There's a host of Graffiti Summer events continuing through June and beyond. For more information, visit www.visitmodesto.com or call 526-5588. Here are the highlights:
- Every Friday and Saturday night through the summer
A&W Graffiti Summer
Classic cars, Elvis, Hula Hoop contest, karaoke and root beer floats served by carhops on roller skates. Free. 522-7700.
Graffiti Summer Art Show
Celebrating Modesto during the 1950s and 1960s when cruising, rock music and drive-in diners were all the rage. Mistlin Gallery, 1015 J St., Modesto. Hours are 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and 5-9 p.m. June 18 during the Third Thursday Art Walk. Free. 529-3369.
Graffiti Classic Car Show
Modesto Area Street Rod Association's fourth annual event. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Modesto Junior College West Campus, 2201 Blue Gum Ave. More than 25 vendors, food, music by the Hot Rod Band of Santa Cruz. A portion of proceeds go to Community Hospice. Free. 529-0366.
Mid-Valley Chevy Club
Free car shows from 5 to 9 p.m. 523-3772.
- Monday: JC's Cafe, 500 Kansas Ave., Modesto
Grease is the Word
See the 1978 film "Grease" starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. Showtime is at 7 p.m. at Galaxy Theatre, 2525 Patterson Road, Riverbank. Classic cars are in the parking lot. $2.50. 863-8900.
MoBand Concert in the Park
Peel out with music from the 1950s and '60s at the first concert of MoBand's summer series. Show begins at 8 p.m. at Graceada Park, Sycamore Avenue and Needham street in Modesto. Free. www.modestoband.org
Graffiti Night & Fireworks Extravaganza
Head to a Modesto Nuts game for fireworks and 1950s and '60s music. Game begins at 7:05 p.m. at John Thurman Field, 601 Neece Drive, Modesto. $5-$10. 572-4487 or www.modestonuts.com.
16th annual Back to Graffiti at The Fruit Yard
Classic-car show hosted by F-100 Elites, food booths, activities. Featuring pre-1975 vehicles. 8 a.m.-1 p.m. car show, 4 p.m. awards, The Fruit Yard, 7948 Yosemite Blvd., Modesto. Free. 577-3093 or www.thefruityard.com.
Riverbank's 4th Annual Car Show
Classic cars, new and project cars, trucks and motorcycles. Live music, food and kids' games, farmers market. 5-8 p.m. Riverbank Community Center Park, 3600 Santa Fe St. Free. 480-2271.