The popular Red Deer Cruise Night is changing locations because of planned construction at Parkland Mall.
Dave Burden, organizer of the Thursday night gatherings that draws hundreds of classic vehicles, their owners and the public, said that he is close to finalizing a new venue. He did not want to name the new location until it is finalized.
The event, which won a 2014 Tourism Red Deer Award, needs to move because a large new business, GoodLife Fitness, is moving into the old Sears location at the mall.
That northeast parking lot, which was near the entrance to the old Sears location, has been used by Cruise Night for about the past five years. The retail location has been mostly empty since 2008 when Sears left. Construction activity, which includes workers, vehicles and equipment, is expected to start in the next couple of months, and will be taking up the parking lot area for about a year.
Cruise Night’s kickoff for the May to October season was last Thursday evening. But participants were rained out soon after it began at 6 p.m. Still, the event drew about 150 vehicles, Burden said.
He said this Thursday might turn into their real grand opening, with better weather expected, and it will coincide nicely with a small fair that sets up every year at that time in the parking lot.
“We always blend with the fair when they come in.”
Burden said he expected they would be moving to the new location in June. It needs to be big enough to allow for growth of the event.
Burden said that in 2014, the highest number of vehicles on their Cruise Night was 669. “I was, believe it or not, starting to run out of room at Sears.”
Cruise Night participants do like the mall location but with the construction going on, there won’t be enough room, he said.
Cruise Night has been invited back to the mall once the new business moves in but Burden said they could end up staying at the new venue.
It won’t be at Westerner Park because even if the parking lot was free to use, the Westerner charges individual parking fees to each driver coming in, Burden said.
Cruise Night is run through donations of $2 per vehicle and from walk-ins who come to see the event.
This year will see new signage and banners and a new web page. That was planned but after winning the Tourism Award, Burden feels “We’ve got make it even bigger now.”