Santa Monica, California drew the stars and cars early on Sunday, Oct. 16 to help celebrate National Plug In Day. The event, a joint effort between Plug In America, the Sierra Club, and the Electric Auto Association, was held in 21 cities, with electric vehicle owners participating in parades, tailpipe-free tailgate parties, and other festive grassroots events. “It’s wonderful to see all these cars with plugs,” raved actor and eco-activist Ed Begley, Jr. at the Santa Monica parade. “I’ve had a Rav4 electric for ten years come February and [it has] 94,000 miles.”
Begley—joined by “Revenge of the Electric Car” producer Chris Paine, former “Baywatch” actress Alexandra Paul, model pitchman Fabio, Los Angeles Congresswoman Janice Hahn, and Air Force veteran Tim Goodrich—snapped photos and spoke to a crowd at Santa Monica’s city hall before sending 188 eco-friendly vehicles down the road.
“It was so quiet as we drove that we could talk to people along the route,” says parade participant Deb LaCusta, who steered her new bright blue Nissan LEAF alongside her husband, actor Dan Castellaneta (the voice of Homer on “The Simpsons”). “It was fun to be involved and get the message out.”
Iraq war vet Goodrich delivered an exceptionally poignant message. “While serving in the Middle East, I quickly realized that America’s involvement had a lot to do with our need for gas and fossil fuels.” Eventually Goodrich grew opposed to the war and returned to America after his tour to champion electric vehicles.
Not that driving electric makes for an easy cause. Critics are quick to point out the obstacles: they often lack power and run on expensive lithium batteries that only last for several years. Batteries need to be constantly recharged, and the cars aren’t great for long distances. “We talk about range anxiety and plugging in, and what happens to batteries,” admits producer Paine, “but what really changes people is the experience of driving an electric car.”