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Graffiti Summer is Coming! 

We are getting ready for another Graffiti Summer. People from all over the world will be here in Modesto, USA, excited to share their love of classic cars, our American Graffiti heritage, our place as the home of George Lucas and the birthplace of Rockabilly music, and the launch pad of the legendary Gene Winfield. This is some seriously amazing street cred my friends, and when you add the hashtag #homeofstarwars we are tapping into global excitement. Nearly every human being that has access to media knows Star Wars and its creator. American Graffiti is ranked in the top 100 of all films made. This is fantastic people and we need to make sure that our Graffiti history turns into Graffiti gold! Turning all of these assets in to an experience should be part of Destination Modesto’s mission.

The Modesto Convention and Visitors Bureau have long said that the #1 request they get for info is for things to do relating to our Graffiti heritage. This is hard data and is key for brand message for travel and tourism as it is the nugget of where we start building. Recently an expert from another large CVB in Southern California was meeting with the Destination Modesto committee on which I sit and was shocked to learn that we are the home of American Graffiti and George Lucas. He was very quick to say that this is a huge part of what we need to tell the world about who and what Modesto is.

But we locals know this already, right? Sort of. I speak to many groups that still don’t know about our history. It starts here at home and we have to educate. And when we set out to develop our branding strategy to spread our message, we have to start with authenticity and build the legend.

So, what are we going to do to make sure this experience comes true when people get here? There are some things we already have right, like the Modesto Historic Cruise Route is a 25 kiosk history tour that rings the actual streets that were the original cruise. The Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame markers line 10th St in the plaza, just a few steps from our largest hotel that hosts hundreds of tour busses each year. There are 11 Classic Community Murals that celebrate our cruising history that are here all year long. Our annual Graffiti Summer events,—the American Graffiti Car Show— offer even more to our visitors. How can we make it better? How do we make this experience more real? Graffiti Radio Station? Museum? Graffiti District? Or how about a Destination Modesto location that might look like a Drive-in?

Yes, friends, we are “Modesto USA, a Classic American City.” We have that small town feel with the big city amenities. We feed the world, which is pretty classic, too. Our destinations this summer include our classic Graceada Park where a classic MoBand performs classic American songs all summer long to over 3000 people for free each Thursday. We have so much to offer with our local independent restaurants and our classic farmers market that should expand into classic 10th St on May 26. Pretty cool, huh? You can see what we can be and it is awesome. Plus, what it does for our own civic pride is immeasurable. We all need to know that, as Modestans, we live in a cool place with a fantastic history that is real.

So Graffiti Summer is coming next month. Are you ready? Do your employees dress retro? Do you play oldies? Specials on your menu? Custom classic milkshakes? Thousands are in town looking for this experience. Will you reach them? This is where we make our brand turn into cash at your business. Let’s get in the spirit this summer and see how rockin’ cool classic Modesto can be.

“May the Fourth Be With You.” (This is not a typo, the City of Modesto at the May 3 Council meeting created a special designation for May the 4th. It’s celebrated globally and is now an official day in Modesto.)

By Chris Murphy

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