WATERLOO – Hot cars in the hundreds will once again be cruising University Avenue Sept. 3 — but not in a “roundabout” sort of way.
The 11th annual University Avenue Cruise will originate from the Waterloo University Avenue Hy-Vee parking lot, organizer Jim Koch said. Cruisers also have obtained permission to use the adjoining parking lot of the now-closed Kmart store.
They’ll need every bit of it, according to Koch, because the Cruise has grown that much over its 11 years of existence.
“We used part of Kmart (lot) last year and it wasn’t enough,” Koch said. “That show’s really getting big. I’m guessing 800 to 1,000 cars.”
It’s a revival of sorts of the tradition of young people “cruising the strip,” a popular activity that moved from downtown Waterloo in the 1950s and ’60s to University Avenue between Waterloo and Cedar Falls in the 1970s and ’80s, when young people drove up and down University and hung out in commercial parking lots.
“It brings people back to University Avenue,” Koch said, and not just to the parking lots where cruisers park. That’s important for businesses in the area. “For that one night, we’ll bring thousands of people back to University Avenue. That’s what it’s designed for. When we go out to cruise, they’re out there waiting for us — people lining the streets in their lawn chairs. It’s a pretty awesome scene. It’s like a parade. But it’s not, because we keep it as a public street.” He praised police for their support.
A “show and shine” will start at 5 p.m. Sept. 3, and the cruse starts at 7 p.m. with live music by the Pastmasters and food through the evening. Participation is free.
This year, the cruise will remain within the Waterloo city limits, Koch said, due to the ongoing reconstruction of University Avenue in Cedar Falls. Cars will proceed east from the Hy-Vee/old Kmart lots down University from Progress to Fletcher avenues then turn around on neighborhood side streets off Fletcher and return on University back to Hy-Vee.
Koch said cruisers are looking forward to completion of University’s reconstruction in Cedar Falls and zipping around the roundabouts. But currently University is limited to one lane in each direction from the Midway to Cedar Heights drives. Midway is the city limit line between Waterloo and Cedar Falls. Rather than bottlenecking that section of road with hundreds of cruisers in a tight turnaround, Koch said it was thought to be best to keep the cruise within Waterloo this year.
Eventually, organizers would like to have the cruise run between the Cedar Falls and Waterloo University Avenue Hy-Vees.
Cruisers won’t mind sailing around the roundabouts. “It’s kind of what we’re planning,” Koch said with a laugh.