Bob Seger summed it up best with the words “Think of seasons that must end” in his classic song ‘Famous Final Scene’.


One of the worst things about car shows in places that don’t have names like San Diego, Daytona Beach or Phoenix is that the car show season has to end every year.


Most guys don’t like to plug in the engine block heaters for their 440 Super Birds or sweep snow off their survivor ’63 Sting Ray split windows before a car show so their beloved rides enter into hibernation mode.


The upside for car guys is that a long winter is great for long hours refining, rebuilding or replacing classic iron.


The downside is that a long winter is simply a long winter.




The Thursday Cruise Night in Red Deer Alberta, Canada ended on October 18, 2012 with a few diehard car guys who braved a fairly cool night to say goodbye to 2012. That was about two weeks earlier than normal because this show typically bumps right up against Halloween.




Every car show has that one guy who takes on the huge job behind the scenes to make a show work and Dave Burden is the man behind the Red Deer Cruise Night.


Dave outlined the history of the show; “Cruise Night has been in Red Deer for many years. This version of Cruise Night has been around since 99-2000 ever since the final place for the car guys to get together (Willy’s Burgers) closed down. After that there was nowhere for everyone to get together other than random parking lots which unfortunately got some bad reviews and the different police services kept a close eye on us every where we went. The Cruise Night has moved parking lots 5 times since it began all those years ago from 2 lots downtown, then 3 different lots at the Parkland Mall. We are now residing in the largest available lot in Red Deer and it can house over 800+ comfortably”.




The growth of the show has been nothing short of spectacular, “The show started with about 20 guys getting together many years ago and now averages 350+ weekly with the largest show hitting close to 500”.


Most veteran car show organizers can empathize with Dave’s experiences on the city management and private industry side of a car show, “There has been a lot of things that were necessary to get Cruise Night up and running. You speak with different organizations (i.e. RCMP, city officials, managers from many different companies and misc. company owners and radio stations) to get it up and running. There are many, many hours of chatting and running around”.




Liability issues are also a priority,“Insurance is also needed for the lots where we have the shows”.


The strength of any show is simple as Dave explained,” There have been many volunteers over the years. Currently I have 2 guys that I can count on to help me set up/tear down the barricades that enclose and keep us all safe”.


The local community has to buy into the program, “ Community involvement has been great. The Red Deer Food Bank has been involved since 2002 I believe. The Drive has been involved since the beginning and have been great to work with and extremely supportive plus miscellaneous charities have also come in randomly from week to week”.




Clearly, a huge byproduct of local car shows is the commitment to the community.


The Red Deer Food Bank is a major partner with the Red Deer Cruise Night as its Executive Director Fred Scaife explained, “Cruise Night is huge for us as we raised over 50K this year. But it’s not just about the money because as a result of our participation, we raised money for a Veterans group and a family that had been in a car wreck. Those are important things for us to do plus it is also the public recognition”.


“It’s similar to way that the brand name in retail is huge. We have been with Dave for 8 or 9 years ever since the small lot across from Superstore. We have had the pleasure of seeing Cruise Night go from a handful of cars that got together for car folks to what it is today—something that is not just a car folks event, it’s a Red Deer event that attracts tens of thousands every year. Dave works endlessly for no pay and the Food Bank receives 15% of its annual operating budget from the Thursday car shows. That’s a big factor for us and we truly appreciate the support”.


Money is the backbone of any car show and the Red Deer Cruise Night is no exception, “Raising funds has been tricky…for the first few years I picked up the tab. Then we tried sponsorship…but issues arose from rules that were put in place by some folks who were trying to help…but that started to limit certain people/companies from coming so unfortunately I had to back away from the sponsor ideas. I always wanted it to be for everyone to enjoy. Now we have a donation box at the front gate as everyone enters or leaves. The best part is that we have also received many donations from companies and car clubs to help keep it going this year”.




The key to success with a long term car show is to have a solid game plan and future goals, “For next year we are hoping to run Cruise Night Radio (FM transmitter) next year so we can have anyone who chooses to listen to our tunes will be able to instead of a loud over bearing sound system in the back ground. We have had a couple of bands come in to play for us and are hoping for more “concerts” next year…funds permitting”.




The biggest factor in a well-run car show is simple—give the participants consistent and effective guidelines, “Rules for the show are more of a reminder of common sense rule because they were put into place for safety for all. Courtesy goes a long way as does directing traffic is on a night-to-night basis. The great thing is, these guys all have been to a show before and do (in most cases…lol) know how to park themselves. We do regulate parking when its really busy, so as to allow more proper spaces”.


Dave has one theme for the Red Deer show, “I try to make a fun filled family event. With special attractions for members of all ages, including a bouncy castle. We have multiple food vendors to try and accommodate many different tastes. And hopefully more events this up coming season”.


The last show of the Red Deer Cruise Night season is over but the countdown has already started for early May 2013.




So, with all due respect to Bob Seger, that’s when the proud owners dust off the iron, open the garage and welcome a great new season for northern car guys.


Here’s a link to the Red Deer Cruise Night Facebook page-


Jerry Sutherland

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