The inaugural Cars Under the Stars car show brought together families and car enthusiasts Saturday night to raise funds for the WiSH Education Foundation.
The sold-out event filled the rooftop of the parking structure across from Macy’s at the Westfield Valencia Town Center.
Richard Cohn, an event co-chair alongside Amanda Benson-Tilch, said that, based on the evening’s attendance, he expected to exceed their fundraising goal of $20,000.
“It’s extremely exciting to be able to hit a number like that for something that we’ve never done before,” Cohn said. “And all the money goes directly to the students.”
“One hundred percent is to support the foundation that goes directly to the junior high and the high schools in the Hart school district in Santa Clarita,” he said.
In part, said Cohn, a self-described “car nut,” the WiSH Education Foundation wanted a fundraiser that was unique for the Santa Clarita Valley.
“There’s a lot of wine and dinner events and other activities that are in the community, which we also participate in,” said Cohn. “But we wanted something new and unique, something to bring families outdoors, something to promote local businesses … that may not have gotten a lot of attention over the last year during the pandemic.”
Marcell Gordon, owner of Glowhouse Gaming, had set up a vendor booth at the car show with two TVs and game consoles and information about his business’ afterschool homework and tutoring program.
“We just want to do our part to give back,” said Gordon, a parent of two Saugus High School students. “We want to show them what the effort of giving back really means.”
Bruce Borst, of Santa Clarita, represented Burbank Road Kings, which contributed 15 cars to the evening event.
“I don’t think you can ask for a better cause,” Borst, a parent of three kids who attended Hart district schools, said of the WiSH Education Foundation.
Standing by his 1971 Chevrolet El Camino, Rick Streiff, of Santa Clarita, said he and his family were there to support the community.
“It’s nice to get out and hang out,” he said of the occasion. “It’s a good family atmosphere.”
Nearby, parent Meg Stradley and her husband followed their son as he raced from car to car, admiring each one each like a toy car fresh out of its packaging.
“Our 5-year-old loves cars. He loves Hot Wheels and this is the real-life version of it,” she said. “As local residents, we love supporting community events. We love seeing people get together and celebrate important causes.”
John Peterson and Mary Lee and their school-age children watched a live martial arts demonstration before walking around the more than 100 cars ranging from hot rods to muscle cars.
“It’s nice to be out and about,” said Lee, laughing as she noted that some of the cars made her feel old. Peterson agreed.
“Nineties cars are now classics and it makes us feel old,” he said with a smile.
The evening also featured food and drinks from local businesses and live music. The event was emceed by local resident George Gray, announcer for The Price is Right, who helped get the crowd get excited about the WiSH Education Foundation.
“Last year, during the pandemic, when nobody has any money, they raised $80,000 for students,” he said to the audience’s applause.
Amy Daniels, the foundation’s executive director, ran the ticket desk for a part of the evening. She said the evening was “absolutely extraordinary” and hoped to double the size of the event next year.
She said, “100% of our dollars stay in the Hart district and go to support student programs that are not funded by tax dollar alone.”
That’s why events like Cars Under the Stars are important, Daniels said, noting that the foundation will be hosting the SCV Music Festival on Sept. 25 to continue fundraising.
Tickets for the SCV Music Festival are available for sale online at wisheducationfoundation.org.