By By Tim Parsons, Lake Tahoe Action | Tahoe.com
A cool idea in 1985 is still cool today.
To prevent motorists from driving drunk, a group of South Shore car enthusiasts started the International Good Samaritans Safe Ride program.
“We were all kind of a mess 25 years ago because that seemed to be the thing in Tahoe, just partying and drinking and driving ourselves home,” said Tom Argo. “Our buddy got a DUI and it cost him $2,000, and 25 years ago we thought that was a small fortune. I got stopped and sent home in a cab, and that’s what got us thinking that there must be a better way to get home than to just go out there and take our chances.”
The group received a donated 1956 Buick, which it raffled at the vintage car and 1950s rock ‘n’ roll-themed Cool September Days. The IGS has given way 45 vehicles, 15 old cars, 19 old trucks, five used Harleys and 10 new Harleys, one scooter, one motorized beach bike, and one new teardrop camping trailer. It raises more than $20,000 a year from the raffle and six car shows a year around Lake Tahoe, including the Sept. 16-19 Cool September Days at the Tahoe Biltmore in Crystal Bay.
A ’52 Chevy Sedan Delivery and custom new Teardrop trailer will be raffled Oct. 10 at the final event, South Shore Cruisin.’
Volunteers in Safe Ride’s first 10 years delivered 80,000 carloads of drinkers to their homes. But altruism has its limitations and volunteers grew tired of providing the service in the 24-hour casino town. Now bartenders are provided vouchers to give to Yellow Cab. Argo said three to five rides are provided every night of the week.
Cool September Days will be an anniversary celebration.
“This show will be a fun time to reminisce and just thank everybody for making our program successful over the years,” Argo said. “We will be looking fondly back at all the guys and gals who are not here anymore, and we will remember the people who are still coming.”
There will be prizes awarded—vintage T-shirts, trophies and paraphernalia.
Argo said he might bring a memento: a piece of the dismantled stage upon which Elvis Presley performed at the Horizon Casino Resort. But that’s not why the souvenir is so special to Argo. He proposed to his wife 20 years ago on that stage at midnight during a car show sock hop.