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Saturday, October 20, 2018

By Chris Frost


Cutline: 2: The Guide Dogs of America get into the act at the Ponies by the Sea Car Show. (Photo by Chris Frost)

Cutline 3: Classic Mustangs were all over Channel Islands Harbor Park on Oct. 14. (Photo by Chris Frost)

There was a giant display of power at Channel Islands Harbor Park, Oct. 14, as the Annual Ponies by the Sea Mustang Show brought out vintage, rare and modern cars all carrying the Mustang heritage and pride of ownership.

The event meant giveaways, classic rock tunes, and the cars, of course, complete with proud owners showing off their rides.

Tri-County Mustang Club Treasurer Ron Miller said the show is a group effort and everyone pitches in to make sure it is a success.

"Our Car Show Chairman is Marcia Fryslie and has been for many years,” Miller said. “The last three meetings before the event are usually pretty hectic, but we all take turns and do a little bit of something.”

He drives a 1969 Mustang Sportsroof, which is currently in a few pieces and undergoing a long-term restoration project.

“It might be here next year, and I’m hoping so,” he said. “I’ve had a few others, but that one I’ve had since May 1973, so that’s my baby.”

Miller said he was almost a Camaro owner and it was a matter of just one day to make a choice and once he saw the Mustang he fell in love the minute he saw the car.

“My mom and dad already had a 1967 Mustang, so that might have predisposed me a little bit,” he said. “In the mid and late 1970’s, all of us were still cruising Main Street, and there was a few of us out there who had Mustangs and together, we formed a Mustang club back then, and it lasted about 10 years. Tri-County Mustang came into existence in about 1987, and they’ve been going strong ever since then.”

He loves being part of the Mustang community.

“It’s fun,” he said. “We’re sitting here on the grass with a little over 100 cars right now, and next year we hope to see 150,” he said. “We just had about 15 Mustangs that didn’t know we had this show. They are just a group of guys who said let’s go for a cruise, and they came to visit us.”

Miller said the event is also a fundraiser that benefits the Guide Dogs of America and contributing to such a cause is important, and the group likes to help.

MaryEllen Lefler has volunteered for the Guide Dogs of America for the last four years and also raises puppies for the group.

“We take puppies from eight weeks old, and they go to a puppy raiser home until they’re 14-18 months old and we teach them socialization, house manners, and basic obedience,” she said. “From there, they go to puppy college and spend six months with formal trainers before they get matched up with their visually impaired client.  They (the dogs) are their set of eyes and help them navigate through everyday life and become their best friends.”

Anyone who gets a guide dog is not charged, she said, thanks to groups like the Tri-County Mustang Club that supports them.

“I got involved because I love dogs and I lived in a condo at the time and didn’t have a yard,” Lefler said. “This helped me get a dog, and I was able to do something good for someone else.”

To get involved and make a difference, visit guidedogsofamerica.org, as many volunteer opportunities exist.

“There are many ways to volunteer without raising a puppy,” Area Co-Leader Diana Janke said. “We also have people who volunteer to hug puppies, clean kennels and do the maintenance. It’s a full facility.”

She brought her puppy in training, named River, who is sponsored by the Tri-County Mustang Club.

“They raise enough money to pay for a puppy,” she said. “It’s about $5,000 to do that. I got involved because there was a counselor at my school who raised them, and I fell in love with doing this. I raised my first puppy in 2011.”

Puppy Trainer Tova Sobel brought “Yofi” who is eight months old and is her third guide dog puppy she is raising.

“We found out about it through a square dance club, and it seems like an opportunity to raise a puppy, and you don’t have to deal with a dog dying, which is horrible,” Sobel said. “It does good for somebody else, they have higher purposes, and without them, puppy raisers (visually impaired people) wouldn’t have an opportunity to be independent.”

She said the dogs have a higher purpose, want to work, and like her children, she doesn’t want them to live at home forever.

“We raise children until they’re 18 years old and they go off to college and become productive members of society, and he (Yofi) goes off to guide dog college at 18 months and becomes a productive part of society.”

Bridget Winnette has been raising guide dogs for 25 years and brought “Hydra” to the car show. She started as a Girl Scout Leader, went to a tour and started donating money.

“I kept getting calls from them about being a puppy raiser, and I said I can’t, I am a stay-at-home mom with three kids, and a Girl Scout leader with 27 girls and I am never home; my husband travels,” she said. “They said that’s perfect, that’s what these dogs need, more distractions and excitement in the home is the best for them. It’s an addiction because you get a graduate and say I can do it again.”

Donald Vincent brought his 1968 Mustang to the show and said his family bought the car when it was new.

“My uncle owned it, and he got it from his roommate in college,” he said. “My uncle made me a Mustang guy as a little kid and riding around with him. My uncle, they used to call him a squirrel, used to drag race (the Mustang) every weekend, so every chance I had to go with my uncle, he would always get on it, and I thought this is nice.”

The car featured its original color combination, highland green, along with its original four-speed and 302 under the hood.

“It cost me a lot of money to put it in this condition,” he said. “That’s okay; I’m happy with it.”