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The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

Art Car Club showcases its rolling artwork on wheels at the Orange Show parade

Club members walk beside their art car through Allen Parkway.

A slow-moving art gallery on wheels.

A showpiece for the hearts of leukemia survivors.

On Saturday April 13, the Art Car Club participated in Houston Orange Show’s 37th Annual Art Car Parade. The long-awaited presentation of the club’s car was a popular sight for over 300,000 visitors throughout Allen Parkway and downtown Houston.

These Art Car fans come from all over the nation to view more than 250 international car entries from 23 states built by elementary to high schoolers, youth organizations, families and professional artists. The Art Car Club started fundraising in October to buy materials for the car, which the members started building in January.

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They were inspired by the true story of a Japanese girl who had leukemia: Sadako Sasaki. She lived through the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, eventually dying due to the radiation exposure. She attempted to fold 1,000 paper cranes to have her wish granted.

In honor of her story, around 30 club members folded 1,000 paper cranes to adorn their car, donated by the Gillman Automotive Group, with assistance from over 40 Algebra II students who were encouraged by their teacher and the club’s sponsor Sandra Wallace.

“If I could do [the parade] over again, I wouldn’t change anything,” Wallace said.

After only being a spectator of the parade for a couple of years and loving the celebration of diversity, Wallace encountered a new perspective during the event. She walked down the streets of Allen Parkway next to her club’s car, waving at dense crowds that she once stood in before.

“What happened today was awesome,” Wallace said. “I was so excited leading up to [the parade]. Then walking, especially through the streets of downtown, just having thousands and thousands of people and watching everyone react to the car with all of the comments they would make, it’s just so cool to hear.”

Before the parade, the cars lined up behind each other, each with a printed number taped to the window, rear or body – Bellaire’s car being #16 out of around 250. With thousands of onlookers walking and observing each car, the Art Car Club members came across a woman who encouraged the club when dealing with the foaming phase.
“Seeing her later come back with her husband and having them take a group photo of us with the completed car and her complimenting us really tied everything together,” Materials Officer Zacharay Barnett said. “It was probably the most rewarding thing just to see her face light up as it hit her.”

Furthermore, pacing through the road was a woman in a wheelchair pushed by her husband. She complimented the design, revealing that she was a cancer survivor and the co-presidents offered her an orange leukemia pin. The Art Car Club was a pre-existing organization before 2020, but later subsided. Co-presidents Cathryn Vera, Aria Jin and Simone Goffney utilized this as an opportunity to regain momentum.

“Just meeting the art car community was really nice because I didn’t even know it was a thing until we restarted this club,” Vera said.

Leading the members up front, Vera waved at the mass crowds consisting of thousands of people on the sidelines of the street for almost two hours through the hot weather, which reached 90°F.

“I looked at the parade on Google and I didn’t see that many people, so I thought it would just be like a walk-by,” Vera said. “But there were so many more people than I thought and a lot of people seemed like they were from Bellaire.”

The car’s design embodied an ombre of blue ocean waves, an orange body and a large crane placed on top. The orange paper cranes were glued on the car’s body using silicone and most elements were spray painted or structured by stucco, then sprayed with varnish, which was bought with the money gained in the October car wash fundraiser. These steps were to confront the biggest obstacle: making all elements waterproof.

“We were trying to get waterproof paper, but that stuff is expensive and it’s actually really hard to buy,” Vera said.

Although it didn’t rain, the car was thoroughly prepared. During the parade, Art Car #9 broke down and pulled over to the side of the road. Taking initiative, three members, including Vera, began pushing the small motorbike from the sides and back to its original place in the lineup.

“It was really fun and it felt like a community,” Vera said. “But I got really tired of running and it was really hot, but it felt good. And if we win any money, I’d love to donate that to leukemia research.”

The members intend to start planning for next year’s car design – preferring to have a connecting story to leukemia to have a recurring theme to represent Bellaire High School.

“The most rewarding part was at the end where you can see all the pieces come together and everything lined up,” member John Ho said. “It’s like all the hard work and then seeing the final product is really satisfying.”

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