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Carmageddon: Forget planking, trio holds 'dinner party' on empty 405 [Updated]

July 19, 2011 | 10:39 am

Many Angelenos stayed off the roads during "Carmageddon," and instead spent their weekend close to home, exploring nearby parks and shops and enjoying their neighborhoods.

One Sherman Oaks couple and their college friend marked the 405 Freeway closure with a dinner party.

On the empty freeway.

Matt Corrigan, 29, his wife Amanda, 28, and their friend Barry Neely, 31, decided last week that they would have a little fun on the 405 while it was shut down between the 10 and 101 freeways for construction.

"We just tried to think of the most outlandish thing to do in the middle of the freeway, and we thought, 'Let's have a dinner party,' " Matt Corrigan said.

They had a few days to scout locations and finalize details: how the trio would get on the road (climbing up a bramble-covered hill), the menu (pasta salad with cranberry juice instead of wine) and their attire (dressy). Silverware, plates, doilies, a tablecloth and a centerpiece were packed. The location -– near the Ventura Boulevard exit by the 101 -– was checked and double-checked. Another friend from college was enlisted to photograph the stunt.

"We were serious about it," Corrigan said. He later added, "If you're going to do it, why only go halfway there?"

Finally, around 4:45 a.m. Sunday, the group of four drove to the bottom of the hill and parked. They made the climb up the freeway, wearing running clothes over their more-formal wear to protect it from the thorny bushes. After reaching the road, they set the scene as fast as they could -– taking off track pants and laying out silverware –- but with a police car looming in one direction of the freeway, and construction vehicles headed slowly toward them from the other, some of the details were bypassed.

"We had gone over it and planned what everyone would do, but the cranberry juice spilled and Barry set up the place mats wrong and we had a Tupperware of pasta salad to put on the plates, but we didn't have time," Corrigan said, estimating they were on the freeway for only about three minutes. "I also didn't have time to take my pants off, so I have on track pants, a tie and a shirt."

At least there was enough time for a photo.

"My wife was really worried that we were going to get arrested," Corrigan said. "Barry and I were really worried that we were going to get arrested before the picture."

Updated, 11:22 a.m. July 19: The group managed to clean up and make it off the road before they were noticed by authorities or construction crews and were not cited.

And if a picture is worth a thousand words, the three have a good story to last them a while.

"Everyone was so worried about 'Carmageddon, Carmageddon, Carmageddon,' but there was that whole couple of miles of untapped land where people could have been doing all sorts of stuff," Corrigan said. "We thought it would have been a funny thing to do, and we're happy with how it turned out."

And what about next year, when the 405 closes again so the other part of the Mulholland Drive bridge can be torn down?

"Maybe we'll have lunch," Corrigan said.


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Photo: Matt Corrigan, Amanda Corrigan and Barry Neely (left to right) on the 405 Freeway during "Carmageddon." Credit: Jesse Glucksman