Jim Gastgeb

Harry Funk / The Almanac

Jim Gastgeb with his 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am at last year’s event

Among the vehicles that will be on display at the ninth annual Pasta Too Rev ’Em Up for Kids Car Cruise, Jim Gastgeb’s 1977 Firebird Trans Am might stand out more prominently this year.

“Obviously, with Burt Reynolds passing away, it will be a little bit of a tribute to him,” Jim Gastgeb, the event’s organizer, said.

Reynolds may have received top billing for “Smokey and the Bandit,” but the Pontiac T-top coupe he drove certainly helped ensure the film’s iconic status. And Gastgeb’s car features the iconic firebird decal on the hood, and he even has a sun screen against the windshield featuring images of Sally Field along with Burt and, of course, his mustache.

1969 AMX

Harry Funk / The Almanac

Don Littlehale of Collier Township brought his 1969 AMX with a 343-cubic-inch engine to last year’s event.

Joining the Trans Am, weather permitting, will be an anticipated 600 vehicles ranging in age from vintage Ford Model A’s of the 1920s to present-day makes, being driven to Bethel Park High School on Sept. 29 from all over the place.

“It’s grown so much in popularity over the past eight years, it’s astonishing when you look at the distance people travel to come to it,” he said. “It’s not just a South Hills thing.”

As was the case in 2017, the event is being held in conjunction with Bethel Park Community Day, following the car cruise’s first seven years at the South Park Fairgrounds.

This year’s schedule calls for a 9 a.m. parade to kick off Community Day, followed by a variety of family-friendly activities from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The car cruise is from 1 to 7, starting in the athletic fields off Black Hawk Drive closest to the Spencer Family YMCA.

After 3, vehicles will be displayed on parking lots throughout the high school campus, allowing for even more owners to participate.

From its inception, the car cruise has raised money toward recreational opportunities for local youngsters, going toward the likes of maintaining playing surfaces and making improvements to playgrounds throughout Bethel Park.

“I think that you want to keep the young kids active in some kind of activity,” Gastgeb, who serves as president of the Bethel Park Recreation Board, said. “You have to maintain your fields and make sure they’re up to standards so that your programs are healthy.”

Youngsters will have plenty to see and do during Community Day, with more than 70 community groups providing activities, refreshments and games. Special features include:

  • Steel City Gamerz gaming truck, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • ABC Balloon Twisting, featuring the award-winning Rebecca Kanar, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bethel Park Recreation booth
  • Pittsburgh Photo Booth, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Characters from animated and action movies, visiting from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and again from 12:45 to 2:45

Also, DJ Plan D, will play music of all eras throughout the day, and Pittsburgh Penguins mascot Iceburgh will be on hand for photo opportunities.

The car cruise is a “shine and dry” event: If it’s raining, wait ’til next year.

Whatever the case, Gastgeb acknowledges Pasta Too owner Raymond Piacquadio for the Bethel Park restaurant’s continuing sponsorship of the event:

“Without his support, we would not be able to run it.”

Car show 2017

The 2017 Pasta Too Rev ’Em Up for Kids Car Cruise was the first at Bethel Park High School.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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