In 2020, it seemed like Covid had possibly dealt the final blow to the legendary Lake Mirror Classic Autofestival. That was until Robert D’Angelo picked up the baton and decided to carry it forth. Now D’Angelo, organizing director of the revived festival, is racing toward a legendary return in October for the city of Lakeland.
About 20 years ago, thanks to the vision of Ford Heacock and his work alongside many volunteers, the Lake Mirror classic arrived on the scene with a clear mission in mind: bring automobile enthusiasts together. And not only bring them together, but to do so in a way that enriches the Lakeland-Central Florida region through support for numerous nonprofit organizations. Today, D’Angelo is as ready as ever to once again enrich the lives and the culture of Lakelanders through the Autofestival.
“This event started in 1999 and went on to run for 20 years,” said D’Angelo. “It became recognized as one of the absolute elite and most enjoyable events in the state of Florida. All the credit goes to Ford Heacock and the folks who built upon his vision. We stand on their shoulders as we prepare for its return.”
When the Lake Mirror Classic kicks off on October 14, hundreds of show cars will be on display on and around the historic Lake Mirror promenade to an audience D’Angelo is estimating to be more than 35,000 attendees throughout the weekend — a weekend that is only made possible by the work of countless volunteers.
“This is a bucket list level show that goes beyond a regular car show,” says D’Angelo. “And there are people who have been a part of it and are willing to continue being a part of it, even though they may have retired or changed their life in certain ways over the years.”
Some of the charities the event aims to benefit include: Guardian ad Litem of Polk County, Friends of Lake Mirror and Lakeland Junior ROTC.
Over the course of the weekend you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of cars like a 1931 Lincoln Model K and the legendary 1924 Ford Model T Roadster. There will be Cadillacs and Porsches from the 1950s along with a plethora of other models from various eras. No matter what automobiles you’re into, D’Angelo is betting you’ll leave satisfied.
“It’s really special to be able to bring such a momentous event to downtown Lakeland, while also benefiting local businesses along with various charities and nonprofits.”
“We’ll have everything from 100 year old vehicles to new, exotic cars,” says D’Angelo. “I mean, we’re gonna have everything. You’re gonna see new McLarens and Ferraris. You’re going to see everything from old model T stuff to everything in-between. So there’s something there for everybody’s taste in automobiles, but there’s also just gonna be so much more to the weekend than just going to a car show and seeing cars. It will be an eventful weekend with a beautiful setting around the historical Lake Mirror.”
The event is scheduled for October 14-16. There is no cost to attend the car show, and concessions will be available for purchase.
“Whether people come just for Friday, or Saturday, or Sunday, I want them to leave the event saying ‘I can’t wait till we get back here next year.’”