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Classic cars will cruise DL beach May 8

Cruise DL will return to West Lake Drive next Wednesday, May 8. BRIAN BASHAM/TRIBUNE

The weather may still be cool, but the atmosphere will certainly be heating up down by the lake next week as Cruise DL Night kicks off its third year.

Hot cars from all makes, models and years will be rolling into town Wednesday, May 8 for the event that is sure to have Detroit Lakes residents remembering that tourism season is upon us.

“We know it’s a good for our tourism,” said Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce President Carrie Johnston, who says car enthusiasts come from all over the region for the event. “The purpose is to come out and see a town they don’t know and see what’s here and take advantage of the restaurants, do some shopping and just get the chance to do something fun on a Wednesday night when there isn’t always a lot going on.”

Johnston says the past couple of years the Cruise DL Night, which happens every Wednesday night May through August, pulls in anywhere from 75 to 200 shiny, unique cars and trucks that all line up down by the city beach.

“Cold doesn’t stop us from having the event, only pouring rain,” said Johnston, who says local car clubs make up a good portion of the show.

One of those clubs is the Midnight Cruisers, and member Lee Swanson says these events are like taking a cruise down memory lane.

“It’s kind of a remembrance of the past, and I like a challenge,” said Swanson. “It’s a good hobby because you’re physically doing something, there’s a mental challenge there and there’s such comradery with all the other car people.”

Swanson says a lot of friends are made at events like this, as everybody there seems to have a central interest to build that friendship on.

Because Cruise DL Night is proving to be such a popular event in Detroit Lakes, police will be turning West Lake Drive into a one way.

“The one way begins at Rossman Avenue and goes to Lake Avenue,” said Detroit Lakes Police Chief Tim Eggebraaten,

“Everything will be well marked and easy to understand, but just remember if you’re a pedestrian, there is still traffic flow there, and if you’re a driver, it’s a carnival-like atmosphere, so just slow down.”

Eggebraaten says the fact that the event is growing is a good problem to have.

Although there is no pre-registration for the event, drivers are asked to register their vehicle when they get there.

“It’s open to anybody who has what they think is a unique car, whether it be a classic, antique, or even a new car that’s really special … just come out and there will be people there to help find a parking spot,” said Johnston, who says the event is set up to feel like a real, old fashioned cruise.

“We have a DJ out there, so we put on some good music and create an atmosphere where it’s fun to walk around and go to Zorbaz or Lakeside or one of those place down there and just enjoy the evening,” said Johnston.

As for Swanson, he will be rolling in with one of his seven classic cars.

“I’ll probably bring my ‘52 Chevy sport coup,” said Swanson, whose wife actually prefers the ’65 Corvette convertible. “They’re all my favorites depending on where you’re going and what you’re doing.”

Swanson says there is a lot of time and love put into these cars, as he estimates the average time spent restoring one vehicle is two to five years.

Bringing these babies out for the public to see and appreciate is only one of the things that “drive” the classic car lovers.

“The thing is to show people what you have done and to share your experiences with your car with other people who have similar projects and to let everybody see how other old cars were or could be,” said Swanson, who says since the Midnight Cruisers ignited 13 years ago, their group has continued to grow.

In fact, he says even the snow birds of his group that go south in the winter oftentimes meet up at similar cruise nights in the Phoenix area.

“So it really gets to be a year round thing for some of us,” he laughed, adding that part of the fun of the cruises is the variety of vehicles that come in.

“People coming there will be able to see a variety of original, old cars, customized, vintage, street rods…” said Swanson.

For more information on Cruise DL Night, either log on to the chamber’s website at or find the event on Facebook at Cruise DL Night.