Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Cruisin’ into summer during COVID-19, Part I June 23, 2020

Heading east on Minnesota State Highway 60/Fourth Street past the courthouse and Fareway Foods, Car Cruise Night participants arrive in the downtown Faribault business district Friday evening, June 19.


IN A SUMMER THAT FEELS anything but normal due to COVID-19, I welcome distractions. And a sense of semi-normalcy.


A 1957 Chevrolet.


For awhile Friday evening, during Faribault Car Cruise Night, I could pretend that we are not in the midst of a global pandemic. The event has been revamped this summer from vehicles parked along Central Avenue to an actual cruise. The June 19 evening cruise started at the Faribault Middle School, leading drivers out of town and around area lakes before heading back to Faribault and finishing on the south end of Central Avenue.


I swung my camera lens east and west to take in the cruise coming and going, including this 1969 Chevrolet Camaro.


Watching the parade from the back of a pick-up truck parked in a business parking lot.


My friends Curt and Leann in their 1959 Ford Galaxie.


In deciding where to sit, Randy and I intentionally looked for a spot that would keep us clear of crowds. And we found that in front of the Rice County Government Center. The uncrowded setting also allowed me to roam onto the courthouse lawn to take photos.


Pre-cruise, I photographed this traffic westbound along busy Fourth Street.


We waited for nearly an hour from the 6 pm start time to see the first car rolling toward us on Minnesota State Highway 60/Fourth Street. But it was a lovely summer evening to sit outdoors, so we didn’t mind the wait. I did worry, though, about shooting into the sun while photographing the parade of vehicles. And that did prove to be somewhat problematic.


Waving from a Chervrolet Corvette.



A group of bikers closed out the cruise line.


No matter, I got plenty of photos—images which show a sense of community, of fun, of joy. This cruise felt different. Lots of smiles. Hand waving. Showing off by a few drivers.


A 1955 Chevrolet.



A Ford Falcon.


Many seemed grateful simply to be out on a beautiful Minnesota summer evening.


So enjoyed this bagpipe player and his addition to Faribault Car Cruise Night.


He started playing next to the Rice County Veterans’ Memorial.


Then moved nearer the courthouse.


Adding to the festivities was the music of a lone bagpiper stationed on the courthouse lawn. He stood for awhile next to the Rice County Veterans’ Memorial in a show of respect. I noticed many an appreciative driver and passenger looking his way. The live music definitely added a new dimension to the cruise and I hope will continue.





Mostly, I felt an overwhelming sense of being part of something that was more than a parade of collector, vintage and other vehicles. I felt a sense of togetherness while not together. I felt a spirit of community.



In a summer when nearly every event that brings people together has been canceled, we had this, this escape. For a short time on a Friday evening in June in Faribault.


Please check back for two more posts from the June 18 Faribault Car Cruise Night.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


24 Responses to “Cruisin’ into summer during COVID-19, Part I”

  1. Almost Iowa Says:

    There is something about bagpipes that is annoyingly beautiful. 🙂

  2. What a great event. I love that they were able to revamp the classic show to a cruising show. I never would have imagined that bagpipes would go with a classic car show but I imagine it added a bit of fun to the event. Glad you had a great time.

  3. Thanks for the roll up of the car parade there in your town. A very MN summer tradition. It made my heart smile after weeks of seeing bad news about our great state play out on the international stage. Looks like the weather is beautiful. Here I harvested my first pea pod today and immediately ate it as a snack. Also a very farm kid thing to do, I guess. Hopefully I will produce a blog this afternoon. It has been months…
    Be safe and keep humble in these difficult times.

  4. So which way do you like better, the drive-by or the parked cars? You featured some pretty sweet cars, what a fun evening for you and Randy AND the community 🙂

    • I like both. But this year, definitely the drive-by. Works great in a global pandemic. I’m sure we could have walked around downtown afterwards and looked. But you’re not going to find me in a crowd. Just not a good idea right now.

  5. valeriebollinger Says:

    I’m glad you were able to attend this event and had a good time…enjoying the beautiful Minnesota summer evening. So good for just about anything outdoors.

  6. A good bagpipe player is the perfect addition for any parade!

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