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WF Chamber, Toppers plan Cruise Night for July 15

Cody Wendelbo (left) of Hot Rod Shop of Fargo and Wayne Rud of Quality Auto Engineers pose beside Wendelbo's 1977 Chevy Corvette. Both are members of the Toppers Car Club, which is planning a Cruise Night on July 15, in West Fargo. Chris Franz/The Forum

If West Fargo residents suddenly see an influx of souped-up, chromed-out, engine-revving hot rods, do not be alarmed. In fact, pull up a chair, sit back and enjoy the show.

Chances are good they are witnessing the first ever West Fargo Cruise Night on July 15, directed by the West Fargo Chamber of Commerce and hosted by The Toppers car club.

Though control of the event now is handled by the Chamber, two individuals can be thanked for sparking the flame. Wayne Rud and Cody Wendelbo have been planning and communicating Cruise Night since June, and after jumping several hurdles now are ready to drop the checkered flag.

There still are a couple of kinks to work out, but barring any inclement weather or unforeseen problems, the car-friendly event should be a go.

"Whatever we do, we have to do it right the first time," Rud said.

Cruise Night will take place on Sheyenne Street from Seventh Ave to Main, and will be free and open to the public. It will run "basically" 5-9 p.m., Rud said, but cars likely will begin to show up around 4:30 p.m. to find good parking spots. Car owners who would like to participate are asked to register in the tent outside the VFW. Afterward, tickets will be drawn for door prizes.

Wendelbo said the stretch of road is a "perfect venue" for driving, and local businesses have been very receptive to Cruise Night.

"The Silver Dollar and VFW probably might have something set up outside, and there will be plenty of parking available," he said. "It's going to be very informal."

"Even some church kids want to do a barbeque and stuff," Rud said.

Wendelbo said there will be diagonal parking available on the street, and plans are to have traffic controlled for safety.

"We met with city engineers and the police department," he said. "They'll be setting up barricades to help with the flow, and they are going to have cones and signs and extra staff."

Until only just recently, Cruise Night almost didn't happen. Chamber Communications and Event Coordinator Julie Yourczek said event insurance was needed before Cruise Night would be allowed.

At first, neither side knew who would foot the bill. Rud said the 17-member Toppers didn't have the funding necessary to pay for insurance, and after some discussion, the Chamber decided to pick up the tab.

"Now we're just working on getting posters and flyers out, and getting people down to Sheyenne," Yourczek said.

If all goes well, more Cruise Nights will be scheduled for the third Thursdays in August and September.

Rud said he hopes the West Fargo event can have the draw of other area Cruise Nights. The one in downtown Fargo has averaged 300 cars a night, he said. But West Fargo's has something others don't have: an endless stretch of nearly open road.

"There's no lights, no nothing. It's really nice to cruise," he said.