Car-lovers revved up for first Cruise Night

Gary Nolte and his 1966 Dodge Charger

Nancy Edmonds Hanson

Chilly temperatures and a brisk banner-flapping breeze failed to cool the passion for hot cars last Thursday, when downtown Moorhead hosted its first of five monthly Cruise Nights.

“Far more cars showed up than we expected,” says organizer Andrew Nielsen, who with Bill Bartholomay began planning for a local gathering of classic car lovers more than a year ago. He estimates that 350 cars and trucks were on hand by suppertime. They filled all available parking spaces on Center Avenue from Third to Seventh Streets, then spilled over into the parking lots behind United Sugar and the Center Mall, drawing crowds that shared personal memories and admire the classics from their and their parents’ youth.

No exact crowd count is available, but he and Moorhead Business Association director Sheri Larson both estimate at least 2,000 people of all ages were on hand for the early evening event. They ranged from older senior citizens who came to view automobiles older than themselves to spellbound children, fascinated by their reflections in impeccable paint jobs buffed to a gleaming shine.

Andrew, the manager of the Center Mall, was not only an instigator of the event. He brought his own car, a teal-green 1973 Volkswagen Beetle. The group he helped found 25 years ago, the Red River Valley VW Club, was among a roster of car enthusiasts led by Valley Vintage Car Club who shepherded the show. Others include Twisted Royalty Car Club and Gentlemen of Speed, as well as Fix It Forward Car Care. The planning committee also include Larson and Nick Lehr of the MBA, city manager Dan Mahli, the police and fire departments and the Clay County sheriff.

Cars and trucks on display ranged from the very earliest Fords, Chevrolets to Chryslers, Dodges, Pontiacs and GMCs throughout the decades, topped off with a dozen classic and late-model Corvettes. Five food trucks offered suppers and snacks to the beat of music by the J.T. Kennelly Band.

Four more Cruise Nights are scheduled in coming months, each on the first Thursday: June 3, July 1, Aug. 5 and Sept. 2. Andrew says the layout is being changed to accommodate a greater number of vehicles in future shows. For updated information on future events, go to

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