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Cruise DL Night

With a mile-long beach on one side and popular bars and restaurants on the other, West Lake Drive has long been an ideal road for summer cruising.

Now, antique car enthusiasts can ride the strip in style with Cruise DL Night, held the second Wednesday of every month through September, from 4 to 9 p.m.

"It's modeled around some of the other cruise nights that people around here are familiar with," said Carrie Johnston, who organized the event in coalition with the Chamber.

The first Cruise DL Night featured a variety of antique and other classic "cruising vehicles" from a number of area car clubs such as Thief River Falls, Fargo and Fergus Falls.

According to Johnston, the event began when "a local car club approached the chamber and said that they wanted to do it here, because we were the only town with a beach."

"We said 'yeah, great, if it brings people to town, let's do it," Johnston said.

"Everybody that we talked to was favorable with the idea of the Cruise DL Night," said Lee Swanson who, as well as being one of the initial supporters a Cruise Night in Detroit Lakes, showed two antique vehicles at the event.

Creating a successful Cruise DL Night in downtown Detroit Lakes was easier said than done, though.

"Changing the two-way traffic to a one-way" on the beach portion of West Lake Drive was "interesting," Johnston noted.

This allowed cars to park "car-show style" along the beach side of West Lake Drive, so people could closely admire the cars and speak with their owners.

And even with the extra parking spaces (reportedly about 70 total) allotted for along West Lake Drive by making it a one-way, parking was inadequate.

"We didn't have enough room," Johnston said, "so I think we're going to expand a little bit."

However, the parking shortage speaks more to the blowout success of the first-ever Cruise DL Night, than inadequate planning.

"I think it was probably more than we expected," Swanson said.

"We didn't know how many cars would fit in that area, and we didn't know how many cars would come," Swanson noted, which led to some planning difficulties.

"With the turnout that we had, I'm hoping they will extend the area another block to the West," he added, "Because we ran out of room."

Car-showers were reduced to parking in places such as the Lakeside Tavern and Zorbaz lots.

Johnston estimated 85 cars were shown at the event, while Swanson guessed there were over 100 total.

Whatever the actual numbers may have been, Swanson added, the first Cruise DL Night was "very successful."

"It went over very well," Swanson said.

For more information on upcoming Cruise DL Nights, or to register, contact Carrie Johnston at the Chamber: (218) 847-9202. -- Nathan Kitzmann