Over hot dogs loaded with whatever one’s palette desired, it was a day to see and catch up with friends, many for the first time in over a year. It was a day to share memories, provide updates, and express hope that the near future will bring more such gatherings. But, most importantly, it was a day for the Road Kings of Burbank to show their thanks and appreciation to the men and women of the city’s police and fire departments.
With a caravan of close to 100 vintage vehicles, the local car enthusiasts staged a caravan that weaved its way through the city as a rolling drive-by car show, stopping by Burbank fire stations from the hillside down to the city’s western border last Saturday.
“Because we weren’t able to do our annual car show fundraiser at Johnny Carson Park, we wanted to do something, and we felt it was appropriate to do an event that would let our safety service personnel know how we feel — how appreciative we are that they are always there for us,” said longtime Road Kings member Don Baldaseroni. “We wanted to do something to honor them, and it made us feel great to see them outside of their stations, waving, giving us the thumbs up sign and a salute with their sirens as we drove by.”
Road Kings President Bruce Borst said he was thrilled to be able to put on an event like this during his watch.
“As a kid who grew up in Burbank, I remember when I was attending McKinley Elementary and members of the fire department came and did a demonstration for us,” he recalled. “My friends and I thought that was great, and it really left a lasting impact on us. Back then, as kids, we thought there were only three strong powers in the entire world — the U.S. Army, the Russian Army, and Burbank fire fighters and police officers,” he added with a laugh.
Divided into six geographical planning zones throughout Burbank, known as “fire districts,” each district is served by a fire station strategically located to ensure optimal distribution of resources and limit undue risk from extended responses.
After doing drive-by visits of stations in each district during last week’s event, the Road Kings’ last stop before gathering for a hot dog lunch at the Elk’s Lodge (provided by Mark Vargas) was at Station 12 on Hollywood Way. An engine and truck company, the city’s hazardous materials division is also located at Station 12.
Fire Capt. Kenny Allen, a 27-year veteran of the Burbank Fire Dept., oversees the crew of Engine 12 who serve as first-in responders to Warner Bros. Studios and the numerous high-rise office buildings in the district.
“It’s always nice to be recognized for what we do,” said Capt. Allen, speaking on behalf of his team who were out in force to see the Road Kings rolling tribute. “This past year, the pandemic had a huge impact on our personnel, and everyone stepped up and did their part. We all worked more days and longer hours than we ever have before, but that’s just what we do, so it was nice of the Road Kings to do this for us and we’re very thankful to them.”
Told of Capt. Allen’s appreciative words, Borst shrugged. “They all came out and thanked us with big similes and their thumbs up,” he said, “which was nice, but the real reason for this day was for us to say thanks to them.”
Among the special guests who participated in last week’s event was Jim Miles, a charter member of the Road Kings who, during lunch, entertained current members with his memories of the club’s first meeting of 18 men which took place on Nov. 17, 1952.
The mission of the Road Kings of Burbank is to promote and foster automotive interests, including participation in various community activities and fundraisers. The club assists and helps to fund local community and charitable organizations as well as support automotive educational efforts in the local schools.
Initially formed as a racing club, the Road Kings has transformed into a group of those who enjoy and/or own vintage vehicles. When not plagued with a pandemic, the organization stages two charity car shows a year to benefit the auto shop programs at Burbank and Burroughs high schools. They also provide both in-kind and financial support to numerous local nonprofit organizations, having given more than $375,000 in the last decade.
DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at email@example.com or (818) 563-1007.