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Art cars revving up

The 29th Annual Houston Art Car Parade is set to grace city streets again on April 9 at 10 a.m. (with cars rolling from 2 to about 4 p.m.), but a big change is in store. So if you plan on heading out to the regular parade site, put on the brakes. This year, the event has been shifted to an alternate location due to Allen Parkway construction. Instead, the vehicles will cruise along Smith Street downtown, from Pease to Walker streets, looping around Hermann Square and City Hall, before ending at Bagby and Lamar streets.

The fun event is free, family-friendly and if you’re a spectator, funny hats aren’t just welcomed; they’re strongly encouraged.

The car parade — the oldest and largest around — is organized by The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art. Upwards of 300 volunteers make it all happen. The event has earned global recognition for paying homage to the city’s artistic and entrepreneurial community, and gained a reputation as a multifaceted, multiday, colorful celebration of the city’s spirit.

With nearly 250 cars signed up for this year’s procession, there’s lots to see. But there is also lots to do along the parade route in terms of food, beverages and shopping. Or, you can take it all in with the VIPit Experience in the Hermann Square area, with shady, reserved seating, free gourmet food and beverage, parade commentary, kids’ activities, free parking and entertainment.  The VIPit Experience is $150 for adults and $25 for children under 12. Buy tickets here.

If you want to make a weekend of it — or if you can’t make the parade but don’t want to be left out — the Main Street Drag is on Thursday, April 7 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., in locations all over Houston. The caravans start at Memorial Park and head out to stops at more than 30 locations, such as hospitals and schools, with over 30,000 spectators. Here you can see some art cars up close and meet with the artists.

Friday, April 8, The Legendary Car Ball, presented by Arts Brookfield, gears up at One and Two Allen Center, 1200 Smith St., Houston, from 8 to 11 p.m. Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the door, and can be purchased online here. Live music, art cars, food and drink are plentiful (but many attendees are most excited about getting into their wildest costumes for the night).

The day after the parade, Sunday, April 10, judges choose winners at Smither Park, 2411 Munger St. The announcements and awards — over $14,000 — take place from noon to 3 p.m., and the event is open to the public. Come have brunch and beverages and make a donation to The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art.

Whether you’re into art, automobiles or just fun, the Houston Art Car Parade will get your motor running.

Susan Shalhoub |PlumEditorial.com

(Jackie Harris’ fruitmobile/Harrod Blank)

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