Back in April, when Montana was under a shelter-in-place mandate, Monte Klindt noticed community members in the valley were getting anxious and stir crazy.
After hearing of a few Friday night car cruises in Libby, Klindt, owner of Performance Heating and Air in Evergreen, facilitated a Facebook page through his business to see if the public would be interested. Within three days, the page had 3,000 followers and Kruise Kalispell was born. For the first three Fridays after that, Klindt ran with the idea down Main Street in Kalispell.
“My original intention was just for the first three Fridays … let’s just cruise,” Klindt said.
While there was no official count, Klindt estimated there were about 2,000 cars and 4,500 people at the first Kruise Kalispell, which likely doubled at the second cruise the following week, he said.
As a result of the unofficial event’s popularity, an official nonprofit Kruise Kalispell event will now take place on Friday, Aug. 14, along with a Kritter Cruise, where people are encouraged to bring their pets. There will also be a car show at Able Body Shop in Evergreen on Saturday, Aug. 15, with proceeds from car-entry registrations benefiting Flathead County 4H and local animal shelters.
“I decided since there’s so much interest, I want to try and do some good out of it,” Klindt said.
Event organizers also encourage attendees to spend money and support the local economy during the coronavirus pandemic. At the second unofficial Kruise Kalispell, Klindt started raising money for local charities, including the North West Montana Veterans Stand Down and Food Pantry and the Flathead Food Bank.
After the first three unofficial events earlier this spring, Kruise Kalispell fizzled out as Montana’s economy reopened. But Klindt wants to cruise once more for a good cause.
“Essentially, we still encourage people to cruise,” Klindt said. “I’m totally about car culture and I’m trying to use it as a platform to help the community.”
On Saturday, Aug. 15, Able Body Shop will host a car show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Owner Jeff Wisher says his lot will have roughly a 100-car capacity.
Wisher wanted to combine the car show with the event, dovetailing off of the car theme of Kruise Kalispell.
With eight of his own cars in the show, including some Camaros and racecars, he will also bring out his hot rods, which he plans to take kids on rides throughout the day.
“It was fun in the very beginning,” Wisher said. “There were so many cars, it was amazing. I just thought that was really fun and I want to keep that going.”
For more information or to register for the car show, visit www.kruisekalispell.com.