Krispy Kreme Tuesdays Burbank apparently bit off more than it could chew at Escondido’s Westfield North County regional mall last night.
When the police and fumes cleared the vast parking lot and its environs, namely freeway feeder lanes and nearby exit/entrances, an estimated 1,500 to 2,500 Southern California vehicular flash mob enthusiasts were gone, if not forgotten.
Not so coincidentally, the car show flash mob occurred during a 2-hour time frame on Tuesday, Aug. 30 when an unusual number of street racing-related crashes clanked along Interstate 15 within sight of, or near proximity to the social media-fueled event venues.
The cashes happened around a normally quiet 8:45 p.m. Tuesday period. California Highway Patrol officers said the vehicles were speeding and appearing to race at that time.
One crash occurred at the northbound Via Rancho Parkway off-ramp directly feeding into the mall. Two others occurred around 10 miles south of the mall on northbound I-15 near Carmel Mountain Road.
Drivers apparently were headed to the Krispy Kreme Doughnuts shop at 11050 Rancho Carmel Drive, a location map of which appeared on the car show club’s Facebook page with the phrase: “United!!!!”
No injuries were reported. No further information was available.
The scene was chaotic about 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. around the 1.7-million-square-foot mall that opened in 1986 at 272 East Via Rancho Parkway, and has never witnessed such a sight before.
Many drivers and the vehicles they rode in on finally dispersed after a San Diego sheriff’s helicopter blasted announcements to disperse or face arrest since the mall was private property and they were trespassing.
Escondido police, San Diego sheriff’s deputies and CHP officers converging on the scene reported taking 30 minutes to clear the immediate mall parking areas. Escondido police Lt. Kevin Toth said, to his knowledge, nobody was cited or arrested.
Some bystanders reported that around 100 vehicles, at one point, sat on the right shoulder of the freeway just south of the mall, apparently poised to street race.
CHP officer Mary Bailey said officers concentrated on clearing the freeway to ensure public safety.
“We have every officer we can possibly put out there trying to help people that are just trying to get home safe,” she said at the scene.
Actually, the event initially wasn’t headed to Escondido’s crown shopping jewel. Organizers said they intended to hold the street car flash mob around Los Angeles, but couldn’t find a place large enough to host it.
Initial car show flash mob participants reportedly headed to the IKEA San Diego parking lot at 2149 Fenton Parkway near Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley, but were chased off by authorities.
Event organizers then blasted out information about the mall “back up spot” on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook along with admonitions about the people’s right to assemble and messages like “We see and hear you Smokey Bears.”
Grand Avenue, which hosts a regular Friday night car show in summers, probably escaped a speeding bullet on this sucker.
The group behind the event was founded in 2007, according to its Facebook page. It goes by the name of the Official Krispy Kreme Tuesdays (Burbank & Irwindale Speedway) and stages car meets, car shows and “anything to do with octane and engines and car tech.”
Its become a well-known, if not notorious, event in the Los Angeles area generally drawing around 3,000 participants to local malls, although L.A. malls all seem to have Krispy Kreme shops, hence the event’s name.
However, car flash mobs have generated controversy wherever they’ve gone and been forced to go from Southland mall to mall in past years.
While many events have gone as smoothly as possible, arrests were made last year at City of Industry while tickets were issued, and the mall closed early at Burbank’s Empire Center. It was unclear if there had been any gatherings since then, and before Tuesday night’s long ride into car show flash mob infamy.