While several hundred local families are currently focused on their sons’ and daughters’ upcoming graduation celebrations and all the pageantry that goes along with the ceremonial rite of passage, the Greissel clan has a few years to wait – their oldest doesn’t even start secondary school until next year.
Nevertheless, the four-member Maple Ridge family was anxious to be part of a dry-grad fundraiser held at a high school in their neighbourhood on Sunday.
It was in part about being there to raise much needed coin for the upcoming Maple Ridge Secondary graduation party, but more so about being front and centre to show off their wheels at last weekend’s second annual show and shine, the patriarch, Murray explained.
The Greissel family showed up to the car show with dad’s 1951 blue Chevy Bel Air, which he started restoring seven years ago. As it nears completion – this being the first time it’s been out to a car show – Greissel chuckled as he announced the interior is all that’s left to be done. Given that he’s an automotive upholsterer, it seems appropriate that he hasn’t got around to finishing his own car interior just yet.
But looking around at a sea of 100-plus classic and vintage cars in the Maple Ridge Secondary parking lots Sunday, he pointed to at least a dozen other vehicles that he had managed to completely re-upholster since he undertook his own car restoration project all those years ago.
While restoration work is Greissel’s part-time profession (he’s also a Vancouver firefighter working four days on, four days off), it’s also become a family pastime.
Murray is now teaching his 13-year-old son Mason and 12-year-old daughter Jusdia the art of re-upholstering, as well as the finer points of repair and restoration not just for cars, but bicycles too.
Wheels are wheels, Murray said, letting his son Mason show off a 1957 Schwinn they brought to the show, and which the father and son spent about two months tricking out with a tiki theme.
“I’ve been teaching my son to turn a wrench,” Murray said, expressing his pride for the job the teen did on this and a few other bikes in their collection.
The hardest thing about the Schwinn, Mason said, was figuring out how to make this bike Hawaiian. He pointed out the integration of bamboo and twine as decorative features on the bike, while his younger sister grabbed a small Polynesian figurine from its platform at the base of the handle bars, to show it off.
“We’ve always enjoyed building things, from coffee tables to engines. We just fix anything we can. We enjoy building together,” Mason said, noting that they’ve taken to buying old cruiser style bikes off EBay, Craigslist, and garage sales.
While they have four custom cruisers they’re currently restoring, Murray said they usually have about half a dozen finished and ready to ride at any given time. And ride they do – again as a family.
And that’s where the fourth member of the family, mom (Melodie), gets involved.
The family typically spends several hours a week riding their pimped out bikes around town, and they’re actually hoping to entice more Maple Ridge residents to join in their unofficial community cruiser rides.
“It’s never boring at the Greissels’, that’s for sure,” Murray said of all their current and pending restoration projects and their plans this summer to show some of them off at events like this dry grad fundraiser.
In the meantime, organizers are hailing Sunday’s show and shine, the second annual event of its kind, a success said school trustee and grad parent Susan Carr.
It is the one big fundraiser held for MRSS’s dry grad, and the show exceeded expectations attracting almost three times the amount of cars as the inaugural event last year, and raising $5,500 to $6,500 for the dry grad.
“Of course, the weather helped but the support was amazing,” Carr said, crediting the parents groups and administrative support as being the “real heart of the event.”
At early meetings with grad parents, Carr said there was talk about putting all their energy into one big event rather than a bunch of smaller events throughout the year, and that’s when the suggestion of another car show was tabled by a parent with connections in the car show world and with the Golden Ears Car Club.
“None of us had ever done anything like this before and once we had that [vision] – it was game on,” Carr said, recounting how the event came together.
“Everyone stepped up to take on a task and the result was a well-organized event. We were also able to have many of the grads attend – proudly wearing their grad hoodies and Ts, in addition to our very talented students who provided musical entertainment,” she said.
“We are hoping to make this an annual MRSS event for future grad classes – improving on it each year and growing… I am so proud of what we accomplished for the school and the students. Thank you to everyone who was involved and who came out to see the show and enjoy looking at those amazing cars! This support has now enabled us to provide a safe drug- and alcohol-free evening for our kids who are the most important part of this whole undertaking… Now that this over we can focus on grad!”
The show and shine winners are:
People’s Choice – Logan Rodeck – 1972 Challenger (this was its 1st time in a show)
Students’ Choice – Doug Speers – 1981 Pontiac Trans-Am
Mayor’s Choice – Jason Leemans – 1932 Ford V-window coupe hot rod
Principal’s Choice – Barry Whymark – 1958 Chevy Impala