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Family in Drive to Save 1960s-Styled Psychedelic Volkswagen

  • PM Rally Van 1

    A side-view of the "Peace-Mobile" displaying it's hippie-styled graffiti. (Kaplan-Allen family)

  • PM Rally Van 2

    A view of the "Peace-Mobile" displaying its graffiti and rally picket-signs. (Kaplan-Allen Family)

Hurry fast, flower children, you may not have much time before a psychedelic 1960s Volkswagen minibus becomes just another relic of the Age of Aquarius.

The Volkswagen -- smothered in psychedelic graffiti and dubbed “The Peace Mobile” -- is parked on the front lawn of the Kaplan-Allen home in The Palisades, a northwest neighborhood in Washington, D.C.  Now the vehicle has stirred controversy after receiving critical fire from the local government’s Department of Public Works.

After hearing the department’s plans to remove the vehicle by the end of October for being a safety and health hazard, the Kaplan-Allen family made a grass-roots move appropriate for the situation: They staged a 1960s-style rally on Oct. 3 to protest the government’s decision.

“It was more of a gathering than a rally,” Volkswagen owner Janice Kaplan told “There was live music, some people arrived with posters and picket-signs and city council member Mary Cheh came, who said she’d like to try and resolve the issue.”

The vehicle, which is now minus an engine and has been parked on the family’s lawn since the spring, has been considered an art piece to the community and was previously used as set material for a production of “Pippin” at the local Georgetown Day School.

The rally, which started mid-afternoon and lasted for about two hours, brought together an eclectic group from the community, including high school students, little kids, aging hippies and arts activists.

“There were probably around 100 people there,” Kaplan said.. “One neighbor had read about the issue and came in their own ’83 Volkswagen ‘love bus.’ There were also visiting German artists who heard about it and showed their support.”

Despite the family’s hard work with the city council to try and revoke the town’s decision, Kaplan said “it seems as though they’re determined to tow the vehicle.”

“We haven’t changed our plans,” DPW spokeswoman Nancy Lyons told “They still have 45 days from whenever they were first notified to remove the vehicle.”

According to D.C. law, a vehicle is considered dangerous and abandoned if left inoperable on property for more than 30 days without valid ID tags. The penalty comes from the fear that the vehicle may have broken glass, seeping fluids, or rat harborage, according to D.C.’s Department of Public Works Web site.

“The vehicle was investigated and it was found to fit the criteria of an abandoned auto,” Lyons said. “They have a certain amount of time to remove it.”

Aside from losing their van, the Kaplan-Allen family could also face a fine of up to $1,000.

Click here to read more coverage from our Fox affiliate in D.C.

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