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Arts & Life

The Red Door Meet Brings Portland's Car Community Together

Every Sunday for the past five years, dozens of cars line SE 2nd Avenue in Portland in a display called the Red Door Meet.

Photo: Kaylee Domzalski/OPB

Many drivers park their cars on the side of the road to observe and enjoy the long parade of cars.

Many drivers park their cars on the side of the road to observe and enjoy the long parade of cars.

Kaylee Domzalski/OPB

People of all ages gather at the weekly Red Door Meet.

People of all ages gather at the weekly Red Door Meet.

Kaylee Domzalski/OPB

Camouflage jeeps, purple Nissans, old Volkswagens and brand new luxury cars line up every Sunday on SE 2nd Avenue in Portland. For these hundreds of car owners, Sunday nights are for the Red Door Meet.

The Red Door Meet is a ritual of rubber and metal that started in September 2012 when Portland resident Aaron Dayton and 20 of his friends began hanging out with their cars. They parked next to the Rose City Self Storage and Wine Vaults, whose red doors inspired the meet’s name.

“A while back there wasn’t really a car scene in Portland,” Dayton said. “And then this kind of evolved to that. We joke now every Sunday, like, ‘Hey are you going to church tonight?’”

Five years later, the Red Door Meet is a thriving car community.

“We’re not about street racing,” Dayton said. “It’s about parking your cars and having fun. Last year, in the peak of summer, I think we had about 1,500 cars.” 

The Red Door Meet began with 25 cars in 2012 and has grown to routinely include hundreds over the past five years.

The Red Door Meet began with 25 cars in 2012 and has grown to routinely include hundreds over the past five years.

Kaylee Domzalski/OPB

Many attendees to the Red Door Meet go to get advice on things like car repairs, upgrades and paint jobs.

Many attendees to the Red Door Meet go to get advice on things like car repairs, upgrades and paint jobs.

Kaylee Domzalski/OPB

Cars roll down SE 2nd St. in search of a parking spot.

Cars roll down SE 2nd St. in search of a parking spot.

Kaylee Domzalski/OPB

And it’s not just the cars or the Fast and Furious vibe that draws people to the Red Door Meet. It’s the community.

For newcomers, it’s a great place to meet new people and get car advice. Groups of people hover under the hoods to look at the engines. Many take photos to get ideas for their own cars.

“If you’re trying to do something to your car, you can come and ask people that have the experience,” Juan Andrade said. Andrade wants to upgrade parts of his 2009 Honda Accord.

“To get ideas you can go all the way down to the end of the street, or you can park your car and just watch them roll by,” he said.

And it isn’t only cars that attend the meet. Motorcycles, lowriders and four by fours ride among the old school roadsters and minivans.

“It’s just become this local culture,” Erik B., one of the 70 administrators of the Red Door Meet, said. “You have these young kids that just love cars, love hanging out. There’s families, and cliques, and crews, and clubs and it’s become really good for the community.”

Ian watches the long parade of cars drive by on his Volkswagen.

Ian watches the long parade of cars drive by on his Volkswagen.

Kaylee Domzalski/OPB

A Red Door Meet attendee watches the line of cars drive down SE 2nd Street.

A Red Door Meet attendee watches the line of cars drive down SE 2nd Street.

Kaylee Domzalski/OPB

 

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