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Students riding in style

Molly Shore

When long, sleek limousines pull up in front of the Autry Museum of

Western Heritage on Friday night, they are likely to be upstaged by a

blast from the past.


John Burroughs High School seniors Amy Vest and Angela Avakian,

along with dates Jeremy Grabar and Vic Antonian, will be chauffeured

to their prom in a red open-air 1958 Van Pelt fire engine restored by

Burbank resident Brian Smith.


Vest, 18, said she and Grabar, a 1999 Burroughs grad, considered

renting a limousine, but discovered “it was way out-of-the-world


Not only was it pricey, she said, it was the type of vehicle most

of her classmates were riding in. Vest wanted to arrive in something

different and unique, something that would totally turn her

classmates’ heads.

“I was riding around with my mom on Mother’s Day when she spotted


the fire engine and said, ‘Why don’t you see if you can go in that?’

” Vest said.

Smith, a 1973 Burroughs graduate, said he was happy to oblige.

“I love to have fun,” he said. “Basically, I’m always up for a

good time.”

Avakian liked the idea, too.

“My date didn’t believe me at first, but when I told him it was

the truth, he was very happy and said he would love to go ... in a


fire engine,” she said.

Vest said she and Avakian are wearing their hair up, and will tell

the beautician to use extra hair spray.

“They’re going to be riding in the back by the water cannon,”

Smith said. “It will be very much parade posture. They’ll be able to

wave at everyone.”

Even though the women do not anticipate any problems with their

hair, Smith said their coiffures are liable to look like rats’ nests

when they arrive, but that’s all part of the experience.

“When I get there,” Smith said, “I’ll sound the siren and lights.

You can’t arrive without it. If you’re going to be the center of

attention, you’ve got to make sure everybody’s looking.”