Live music, beer and fast cars

Annual Mopar Big Block Party draws thousands to Washington Avenue

Posted 7/23/18

Washington Avenue was blocked off from 11th to 14th streets to make way for the thousands of people crowding the street, checking out some hot rods and cool classic cars on July 19. It was the 2018 …

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Live music, beer and fast cars

Annual Mopar Big Block Party draws thousands to Washington Avenue

Posted

Washington Avenue was blocked off from 11th to 14th streets to make way for the thousands of people crowding the street, checking out some hot rods and cool classic cars on July 19.

It was the 2018 Mopar Big Block Party — an annual celebration that takes place in downtown Golden every year to kick off the Dodge Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, a three-day event that took place this year July 20-22.

“It’s been apart, and it’s been together,” said Dave Pate as he glances at his yellow 1971 Plymouth Duster — a car he’s owned for 44 years.

Pate is the second owner of the car and it’s been with him through many of his life’s milestones.

“I went to prom in it and graduated high school with it. I brought my kids home from the hospital in it,” Pate said. “Then, after my divorce, it was the only thing I had left. And the only thing I had when I got remarried.”

People walked by, clutching a new T-shirt, a glow-in-the-dark cup or some sort of other swag obtained through a giveaway or won as a prize.

Radio DJ Willie B prompted the crowd to shout “Mopar” or “Pennzoil” from the stage set up at 13th Street and Washington Avenue during the Steve Thomas Band’s break.

Thomas started the band about 14 years ago, and it now consists of front man Thomas on guitar, drummer Derek Shebiel, Steve Bazz on keyboard and bassist Brian Collins.

Specializing in 1980’s rock cover songs, the band’s set kept hundreds of people dancing throughout the four-hour event.

And although, they perform at venues all over Denver-metro and the casinos in Blackhawk, the Mopar Big Block Party “is our favorite gig all year,” Thomas said, noting this is the sixth-or-seventh year they’ve performed at the celebration. “We’re always happy to do it.”

Some people made their way to drive a virtual simulation race car, some waited in line to get an autograph from the race car drivers while others strolled along, with beer in hand, occasionally pulling out a cell phone to take a picture of a car that caught their eye.

Rich and M.J. Kaup of Golden sat watching the crowd go by or as people took a peek in the windows or under the hood of their green 1969 Plymouth GTX.

“It’s the quintessential muscle car,” Rich Kaup said.

The couple drives it about 300 miles a year to participate in local car shows — the two belong to several Rocky Mountain Mopar clubs — and to do the monthly Golden Super Cruise during the summer.

The two bought the Plymouth about 20 years ago and Rich Kaup restored it back to original about 12 years ago. They bought it because it is similar to the first car they bought as a married couple, Rich Kaup said.

“And,” he added, “it’s always been a Colorado car.”

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