Balloons to classic cars visit Johnson Lane |

Balloons to classic cars visit Johnson Lane

by John Hefner

Hello Johnson Laners,

This community is the absolute best place to call home.

On Saturday, my wife pulled me out of bed and convinced me to go for a walk at 6:43 a.m. We were on a quest to watch the hot air balloons launching. Of course, we went the wrong direction or a half mile and had to go back to Stephanie and East Valley. Our neighbors Lori Anderson and Sheldon Grauberger, along with other balloonists, launched five balloons. It was an amazing start to a full day. We are lucky to have this group in our backyard.

Thank you Lori and Sheldon along with your other partners. It really was a treat.

If having five balloons launching wasn’t enough, Bill Muerle had a spontaneous idea to conduct a parade of classic cars around the community. He was inspired by the Piñon Hills Elementary teachers parade a few weeks earlier. (Another treat). Bill humbly thought there would be about 30-50 participants. By 9:45 on Saturday morning, the cars were lined up from the Johnson Lane Park down to Stephanie and wound around to Gordon and continued south on Gordon to nearly Downs. We lost count at 110 cars and suspect that there was closer to 150 participants. The response was overwhelming.

Bill also convinced the Flash Jam crew to join us. They brought out the Tripping King Snakes as a band. Nova Tile Sponsored and paid for the band. Please stop in and tell them thank you if you have a chance.

The Johnson Lane Volunteer Fire Department led the parade with a fire engine and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office provided traffic control.

If Bill had tear ducts, he probably would have shed a tear. He was overwhelmed and very impressed with the turnout of the event. One unexpected issue popped up which was the slow pace of the parade caused many cars dropping out due to overheating. My own ’68 Mustang was blowing a fuse so the fan wouldn’t turn on. The El Camino would get up to 230 degrees so we had to bring it home. Hindsight being 20-20, I could have straight-wired the fan and kept the Mustang in the parade but I was too disappointed to think of that fix. Why is it these gremlins pop up on the day of an event and not before? Others had similar problems and by the time the parade got to the end of the route it was the band and about eight cars.

Even with these set backs this was a hugely successful event, and I hope we do it again next year. We learned a lot and will be making changes to the route and possibly do it more of a cruise instead of parade. That would allow participants to come in and out in because they need to cool off the cars.

To all those who came out and cheered us on, a huge thank-you. You are the reason this was conceived and conducted. It was awesome seeing you wave to us and seeing kids giving thumbs up and all the smiles. Additionally, the Facebook page had a huge response with positive comments, pictures and videos. Thank you to everyone for your encouragement. It was a great break to the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order.

I wanted to mention that Lester Harris, who is a long-time resident, turned 90 years old this week. He was the one driving the 1926 Rolls-Royce Phantom I. It is such an awesome car, and it was good to see it make the parade. They don’t build them like they used to. Happy Birthday, Lester!

We ended our Saturday with an actual dine-in breakfast at Red Hut. It was great to actually get to have breakfast with friends. The owner thanked us for supporting them. I know some will not feel comfortable, yet and if you are not comfortable, then please be safe. If you do feel healthy, get out and support these businesses. We need them to be there when we return to the new normal whatever that will be in the future.

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