East Austin car club members rally in support of Sunday tradition

Gathering on Sunday afternoons in Chicano Park has been a decades-long tradition for many in the East Austin community.

"I’ve been coming out here to Chicano Park since I was three years old," said Edward Castillo. "Since then I started to bring my son, he’s come here his whole life, I’ve been here twenty minutes and seen like five or six of my cousins."

They gather to show off their cars, but it’s more than that for those that attend.

"I have been low-riding since ‘78, ‘79 here in Chicano Park," said John Colunga with the Barrio Car Club. "Everybody eats for free, everybody brings something, so it’s like a community thing, families, different car clubs but a big ol’ car club together."

Even Mayor Steve Adler stopped by on Sunday, along with other city leaders.

"I think what’s happening here is part of Austin’s history and part of our culture and finding a way to preserve and protect it," he said. "This is a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon."

Across the street at The Weaver, some apartment residents have reportedly complained about noise or other issues stemming from the meet-ups. However, those who gather on Sunday don’t think that’s fair.

"We will continue to keep our legacy going for generations to come, que viva Chicano Park!" said Bertha Rendon Delgado at a press conference held there Sunday. She serves as president of the East Lake Citizens Neighborhood Association as well as commissioner of the City of Austin housing in 78702.

DOWNLOAD THE FOX 7 AUSTIN NEWS APP

Chicano Park, or Edward Rendon Park, was named for her grandfather.

"We want to work with our officials and work with our department, we want to make sure the newcomers understand this is who we are and this is what we do," she said. "You have to accept our traditions if you want to live in our community because we were here first."

They said if someone is breaking the law - residents have the right to call the police.

"Cite them, whatever, take care of them as individuals, not the whole community of Chicano Park," said Ernest Garcia with the Barrio Car Club.

Some believe it goes deeper than just noise complaints.

"If this was a farmers market instead of a car club with black and brown people would they be happy, would it be celebrated, would it be considered East Austin culture?" said Castillo.

He said anyone in the complex or surrounding community is welcome to join them. In the meantime, they aren’t going anywhere.

"We fought for this park," he said. "I challenge everyone to look at the history of Chicano Park and see what black and brown people did in the city, why we were pushed here, and why we’re so protective of it."

SIGN UP FOR FOX 7 AUSTIN EMAIL ALERTS

Below is a statement FOX 7 received from The Weaver in regards to the car clubs:

"The Weaver community understands and respects the importance of the weekly car club tradition in the East Austin community. As such, no one ever speaking on behalf of the property or property management has ever asked the car clubs to move or end their Sunday gatherings - nor are we aware of any resident doing so.   

A unique point of distinction between The Weaver and other complexes is its origins. It is part of the larger redevelopment of the RBJ Center site, which has the purpose of funding The Austin Geriatric Center’s mission to provide 500 affordable homes for seniors. We hope the community can understand the great lengths that went into gaining community support for the redevelopment’s vision, the need for affordable housing, and the important role residents of The Weaver are playing to provide it.  

While a few of our residents, as well as other neighbors nearby, have complained about certain issues related to the gatherings, like noise levels and blocked roadways, it is important to note the quality-of-life concerns raised are similar to those often voiced whenever large, festive gatherings are held near homes, in Austin and beyond.   

We’ve reached out to our residents, car club organizers, and East Austin leaders to facilitate better understanding and help find solutions that respect all involved."