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The ultimate week for car enthusiasts is now underway on the Monterey Peninsula. An estimated 85,000 visitors will descend on one of the most beautiful places on earth, a place many of us are lucky enough to call home. I had the honor and privilege of participating for many decades in the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, arguably one of the most important automotive events in the world. As car collectors gather and locals brace for traffic, here are some thoughts.

This week is not about the rich and their fancy cars. It’s about supporting local charities, giving the area an economic boost, and showing patience and kindness.

Support nonprofits: The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is celebrating its 71st year and longtime president Sandra Button has made it a priority to give back to local organizations. Many stellar community-serving nonprofits benefit from the charitable draw and generous partnerships with luxury automakers. Since 1950, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance has raised more than $29 million for local charities. Consider buying a raffle ticket. Ticket sales are limited and the chances of winning are much better than the lottery. And if you don’t win a car, you still change a life.

Economic boost: The Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau said Classic Car Week 2019 generated more than $67 million for the region. COVID has suspended that influx of income in 2020. Last year was another banner year and this week will likely prove even more dramatic. We have plenty of restaurants and small businesses recovering from the pandemic and Classic Car Week is a major vector and driver of economic recovery (pun intended).

Be nice: I love the phrase “In a world where you can be anything, be nice”. For locals: Yes, there will be a lot of traffic. Plan ahead, enjoy the sight of these extraordinary automobiles sharing the road, and remember the points above. The same applies to visitors. We want to be an exceptional host and many of our businesses struggle to find staff to provide the service we want to every guest, in every interaction. We want your stay to be extraordinary. Be patient. Be kind.

And finally, being in the health business, I would be remiss if I didn’t remind everyone to be healthy and safe. COVID-19 and MPX (monkeypox) are global health threats and we encourage people to take reasonable precautions to mitigate the risks from these viruses.

Let’s celebrate car enthusiasts and all they bring to our region. There’s something for everyone during this incredible week of activity and even Sunday’s stunning grand finale, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, can be watched online for free.

Karina Rusk is a longtime community volunteer, nonprofit attorney, and the Director of Public Relations and System Communications at Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System.

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