The popular grassroots gathering of classic and specialty car enthusiasts—an event whose only location in New Canaan, to date, has been the downtown—has cleared its final hurdle for a Sunday, Oct. 19 trial run at Waveny.
Launched four years ago out of New Canaan resident Doug Zumbach’s eponymous gourmet coffee shop on Pine Street, Caffeine & Carburetors has grown so large that, logistically, it cannot be held downtown more than twice per year. One long-term vision for the event is a combination of installments downtown and at Waveny—for example, two at each spot between April and November.
On Thursday, an administrative team known as the ‘Special Events Committee’—overseen by Tom Stadler of the first selectman’s office and including parks, police, emergency management, health and recreation officials—voted unanimously in favor of the October trial run.
“I think Waveny is a natural for this event,” Deputy Director of the Office of Emergency Management and CERT board member Jim Cole said at the Special Events Committee meeting, held in the Training Room at the New Canaan Police Department. “It should work very well.”
How it will work is:
- Event will run from 8 to 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 19
- Show cars can enter from the main Waveny road form South Avenue or Lapham Road (a police officer will be stationed at each entrance);
- Show cars will park in the lots on the west side of the park, around the front circle of Waveny House, in the lot beside the soccer fields and just off of either side of the road running from there down toward Lapham;
- Regular park users (walkers, joggers, families, platform tennis players, dog owners) can park in the lot between the pool and paddle tennis hut, as well as the lot behind the pool and Lapham Community Center;
- As needed, Caffeine & Carburetors visitors can park behind the pool and at the community center, with overflow parking at the high school lot nearest Waveny, and walking into the park;
- An EMT will be on site;
- Port-a-potties and garbage cans will be set up;
- Signs will direct exhibitors and attendees to head into downtown New Canaan for gas, shopping and food. (The New Canaan Chamber of Commerce is working with businesses to make sure all merchants who want to open specially for the show are marketed to attendees.)
Zumbach told the group that he expected about 400 show cars and fewer overall attendees, with an anticipated drop in visitor foot traffic.
“I think the show will be a little bit smaller,” Zumbach said.
Capt. Vincent DeMaio said he’s pleased with the Waveny location as compared to the downtown, since it will have requires just three officers to staff (two at each entrance and a third roaming the event), is safer for pedestrians and won’t cause traffic backups.
“I don’t see us having any backup traffic problems,” DeMaio said.
Zumbach said he will have about 20 experienced volunteers of his own helping people park, and that the team will stay afterwards to clean up.
“I guarantee you will not be able to even tell there was a show at Waveny,” he said.
No CERT volunteers are needed at the Waveny location. If it rains, the event will be cancelled, as it has in the past, Zumbach said.
Zumbach said he could set up a pop-up tent for coffee at a lot beside the house (the same area where the Exchange Club sets up its tent for the Family Fourth), but that he likely wouldn’t aim to have food there.
“I thought maybe coffee but no food, and that’s the way you get participants in town, because they’re going to be hungry,” he said.
The Special Committee voted unanimously in favor of the October trial run. Last week, the Park & Recreation Commission voted 4-3 to support it. One of those dissenting votes was from Joan Guzzetti, who attended the Thursday meeting and outlined some of the reasons why commissioners objected.
Saying she was a loyal customer at Zumbach’s who enjoys Caffeine & Carburetors downtown, Guzzetti raised concerns about park use that day for regular users as well as about how big the event could be, and questioned whether it constitutes recreational use.
“We actually don’t think that it’s a natural for the park,” Guzzetti said, adding that she knew of at least two Park & Recreation Commission members who, had they attended last week’s meeting, would have cast ‘No’ votes.
“I’m hearing a lot more ‘Well, there will be fewer people’ but we really have no idea now many people are going to come,” Guzzetti said.
She added that the Park & Recreation Commission often is criticized, or at least that a perception is out there, that it’s overly receptive to active uses in the park and goes out of its way accommodate active recreation.
Stadler said he could understand concerns about so many out-of-state residents coming to Waveny, but said he did consider Caffeine & Carburetors recreation for its participants.
“You may think it’s not,” Stadler said. “I mean, people play bridge in Lapham. Is that rereation, playing cards? People fly model airplanes. Is that recreation? I think it [Caffeine & Carburetors] is recreation for these folks.”