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'Dead Heads' Party Like It's '64 At Port Chester's Garcia's

The Furthur Bus "tripped" into Port Chester on Tuesday, July 29, for its first East Coast stop at Garcia's in Port Chester. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly
Sharyn Friedman, left, of Armonk, meets up with her friend Ruby Engel of Larchmont, who rode the Furthur Bus. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. – Ruby Engel rolled into Port Chester’s Garcia’s partying on the roof of the magical Furthur Bus on Tuesday night, July 29, giving new meaning to the “Dead Head” mantra of “being on the bus.”

The Larchmont resident is a longtime Grateful Dead devotee but had never physically seen or ridden the party bus, famous for its cross-country road trip in 1964 with famous authors, musicians and Merry Pranksters on board. That changed when she heard the bus made a pit stop in the Kohl’s shopping center. She and her husband, Fred, jumped in their car to get an early look at it.

The next thing Engel knew she was on top of the bus riding back to Garcia’s, which was its first East Coast stop on a 42-stop tour celebrating the 50th anniversary of the bus’s first road trip to New York.

“I think it’s important to the band (Grateful Dead) and it’s historic,” she said, still wearing glow sticks on either wrist.

An Americana bluegrass band called Cabinet played a free show at Garcia’s on Tuesday night. But at the first sign of bubbles, everyone moved outside to greet the Furthur Bus, which pulled up in front of the venue around 10 p.m. Bubbles continued to blow from the back of the bus when Cabinet climbed on top of it and played a few acoustic songs.

“To have cabinet and the bus in the same place is just awesome,” said Heather Bloemen, who drove from New Hampshire for the event.

Like Bloemen, Shana Soloff, of Rockland County, took plenty of photos with the bus when it arrived.

“It’s fantastic and it’s just as much important having Garcia’s also,” said Neil Winters, who went to his first Grateful Dead concert at The Capitol Theatre in 1971, when he was 15. “The Capitol has added so much flavor to the night life and helped turn Port Chester around.”

Port Chester’s Dave Camacho said he saw the bus driving down Westchester Avenue earlier in the day but was not able to get on the bus like Engel. He and Daniel Lasso said they were excited to have such a big event in their small village.

“That doesn’t happen here, especially in Westchester,” their friend Cleve Kura of New Rochelle, said. “Westchester is so uptight.”

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