Old Fashioned Day in the Park brings vintage yachts and automobiles to Marina del Rey

By Billy Singleton

Now in its 39th year, Old Fashioned Day in the Park features more than a dozen wooden yachts and 50 classic cars,  including a fleet of Woodies

Now in its 39th year, Old Fashioned Day in the Park features more than a dozen wooden yachts and 50 classic cars,
including a fleet of Woodies

Travel through time back to the first half of the 20th century at Old Fashioned Day in the Park, a Marina del Rey tradition that only seems to get better with age.

For the 39th consecutive year, the highly anticipated summer showcase of vintage land and sea vehicles returns to Burton Chace Park on Sunday with an assortment of 50 classic cars as well as a dozen wooden yachts that visitors will actually be able to board.

“I think that our old classic wooden yachts represent a time way back into the 20th century. People really enjoy the opportunity of being able to see them and have that little bit of nostalgia for how life used to be,” said event organizer Christine Rohde, a member of the Classic Yacht Association’s Southern California Fleet.

The CYA and the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors are co-sponsors of the event, which is free and open to the public.

Rohde, who has been running the event for the past decade, joined the CYA in 2002.

“I brought my boat over and I literally got to know my next new family,” she said.

This year she will display her own classic yacht — Sparkle, a 1950 Chris Craft Catalina — beside those of her friends.

“If you look at pictures of Catalina Island from the ‘30s and ‘40s, the harbor is filled with these boats. And there are very few of them left anymore. I’ve been going to Catalina since I was a baby. These are the things that used to get us there,” Rohde said.

For members of the Classic Yacht Association, sharing the history they’ve worked to preserve is what makes all the effort worthwhile.

“When you work as hard as we do on these old boats it is fun to get them into good enough shape to show them off,” CYA Commodore Rick Olson said. “It is its own special reward when someone else appreciates what you have lovingly rebuilt and cared for.”

The Classic Yacht Association was founded in 1969 by a group of vintage boat enthusiasts, and the establishment of Old Fashioned Day in the Park followed soon after. The organization has since grown to include five fleets, spanning “from Connecticut to Florida and from Vancouver to San Diego.”

Old Fashioned Day also convenes several classic car organizations. This year’s display of prized autos is expected to include Model As, T-Birds, Woodies and 1960s muscle cars. A 1937 Bentley Derby — one of only 10 made and two still known to exist — will also make an appearance.

In conjunction with the ongoing celebration of Marina del Rey’s 50th anniversary, this year’s Old Fashioned Day in the Park also features $1 historic harbor tours by sea and special historic displays on land curated by the Marina del Rey Historical Society.

For the first time ever, the event will also include wooden dinghy races in the harbor sponsored by the South Coast Corinthian Yacht Club.

The first dinghy race goes off at noon, with others to follow at 1 and 2 p.m. Those interested in entering the races should contact race chair Robert Garlipp at (310) 306-2787 or toper1939@outlook.com.

As in years past, Old Fashioned Day in the Park will continue featuring early 20th-century steam-powered farm equipment. A crowd favorite, the machinery is kept running for visitors to see.

But for those who have been involved with the event year after year, the boats are the main event.

“I love seeing the looks on people’s faces as they stare at this unusual and beautiful sight, especially the kids. That amazes me the most,” said Steven Sheridan, the Classic Yacht Association’s 2013 commodore. “The kids have a sense that these old yachts are special. They don’t really know why, they just know.”

Old Fashioned Day in the Park happens from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, July 26, at Burton Chace Park, 13650 Mindanao Way, Marina del Rey. Admission is free. Shuttle service runs to and from Fisherman’s Village. For more information, call (310)305-9595.