Sweet Ride

Bringing the public “happy times,” is exactly what Louie and Cynthia Rojas aim to do with their car show celebrations. The pair, originally from San Bernardino, California, has been bringing car shows to Laughlin for several years under their well-known business, Happy Times Events.

They built a following with their car shows in California, and decided to expand to the Laughlin area.

“We decided to try it here and it just took off,” Louie Rojas said. “With the hospitality we show and everything we do, everybody just followed us here. People love Laughlin and coming to the river so it’s multi-fun — boat riding, casinos, car show, music, entertainment, everything — it’s the place to be. So we have a lot of people that support us from out of town — Vegas, San Bernardino, San Diego, Phoenix — they come from all over and bring their cars.”

After the pandemic put things on hold, they are back at the Tropicana for the 14th year of Viva Tropicana Celebration & Car Show, taking over the North Parking Lot Friday-Saturday, Sept. 24-25 (9 a.m.-5 p.m.).

“It’s the welcome back car show. Happy Times wants to welcome everyone back,” Rojas said. “We do expect a lot of cars and a lot of people and we’re ready. For this one, I expect maybe 200 cars because it’s the first one since the pandemic. But we still have to be safe, don’t put your guard down. Wear your mask, keep your hands clean and enjoy yourself, and this thing can happen every year after this.”

The show is open to every make and model of car, truck, motorcycle and show bicycles. Registration costs $35 per vehicle and will take place at the show only, starting at 9 a.m. Friday. The show runs from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. both days, and there will be 24-hour security on the lot, with no one allowed on the premises outside of show hours. It is free for spectators to come admire the cars.

Judging will begin at noon Saturday to determine winners of more than 40 trophies given out at the show.

“There’s from Best Restored, all the way to Best Rockabilly, Best Paint and Farthest Distance — whoever brought their car the farthest distance gets a trophy,” Rojas said. “And I have Tropicana’s Choice, where the Tropicana general manager will come out on Saturday and choose the one he likes and whoever he picks, I put that one on the flyer and marquee for the next year.”

There will also be a People’s Choice award for the car that creates the most buzz among the crowd. Awards will be presented at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Along with checking out the hot cars, there will be vendors to browse at the event.

“We’ve got a lot of vendors with car items, ladies accessories, shirts — just a mixture of things,” Rojas said.

One thing not sold on the lot is food and beverages. That may be purchased at one of the many outlets inside the Tropicana.

There will be lots of entertainment throughout the entire weekend. MC Angel Baby and DJ Manny will be playing tunes at the car show 11 a.m.-5 p.m. both days. Inside the Tropicana at Tango’s Lounge, Flashbak will play 4:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Friday and 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Saturday. The Champagne Band will play in Tango’s from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday and 4:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Saturday.

Outside at Victory Plaza, Smooth Groove Band will start the night off from 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Balance Band of Azusa featuring Sammy Medina will take over from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. both nights.

“It’s all around a good time for everybody,” Rojas said. “We really do enjoy this and we’ve been doing it for a while, so I guess we’re doing something right. It’s a lot of work, and my wife Cynthia, I call her ‘Mrs. Happy Times,’ she puts a lot of work in for this and all of the car shows we do.”

Along with the long-standing partnership the Rojas have with the Tropicana, another person who helps with the show’s success is the event photographer, who provides all photos of the cars.

“My photographer from High Desert Unique Photography, Larry Armenta, he’s been with me a long time and he does all of the pictures you see on the flyers and everything,” Rojas said.

The work pays off with two successful car shows every year — Viva Tropicana in the fall and a Cinco de Mayo show in the spring. Both are celebrations for car enthusiasts, but also provide entertainment for everyone to enjoy.