In the 1950s, ’60s and early ’70s, so many teens would cruise up and down Main Street and Broadway in Vancouver that it could take 45 minutes to travel a dozen blocks on Saturday nights, old-timers say. Clogged traffic and fights eventually led police to drive cruising out of downtown.
For one Saturday night a year since 2009, cruising Main Street is fully sanctioned.
Cruise the Couve invites people of all ages to be teenagers for a day and drive their cars on Main Street with the windows rolled down and the music turned up.
The 2018 event drew an estimated 15,000 people, said organizer Bryan Shull, owner of Trap Door Brewing in Uptown Village.
From 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. July 20, drivers are encouraged to parade their cars — whether a hot rod or a Honda minivan — along Main from 28th Street to Sixth Street. You can join the cruise, or park a lawn chair to watch.
The cruise brings business to Main Street, but it also has a charitable side. Cruise the Couve is a nonprofit organization, and proceeds from the event go to the Hough Foundation, Bike Clark County and the Clark County Historical Museum.
Anyone who donates food to Share at a collection spot just north of the fire station at Main and Fourth Plain Boulevard will receive a commemorative dash plaque.
Sponsors help cover the $30,000 price tag for police services, portable toilets, cleanup, event management, insurance and promotions, Shull said.
It turns out there’s a lot of logistics involved with inviting thousands of cars and people to visit Main Street all at once. Phil Medina came up with the idea to bring cruising back for an annual event, which he launched in 2009 as Cruisin’ the Gut. Insurance and police costs overwhelmed his one-man organization. Uptown Village merchants took over and renamed the event Cruise the Couve in 2017.
Now that the new organizers have a couple of years of experience with the event, it’s practically on cruise control.
“I don’t see a lot of change from last year,” Shull said.
If You Go
• What: Cruise the Couve.
• When: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. July 20.
• Where: Main Street between Sixth and 28th streets, downtown Vancouver.
• Cost: Free, food donations for Share accepted.
• Event website: cruisethecouve.net