It was with great sadness that I read of the split between the Coeur d’Alene Downtown Association and the North Idaho Classic Car Club regarding Car d’Lane. It’s an event that is very near and dear to my heart.
Car d’Lane’s roots began with the Idaho State Centennial in 1990. As part of the statewide celebration, a group of antique cars toured Idaho. The motorists connected with Dennis Lekander (and others whose names fail me; sorry guys) to set up their arrival in Coeur d’Alene.
On Father’s Day they lined Sherman, along with a nice pack of local vehicles. I clearly remember attending the event with friends and our kids. It was a Chamber of Commerce day, warm and sunny and filled with smiles all round.
The next year the same people pulled it together again. There is no doubt that most of those wonderful people were members of the North Idaho Classic Car Club, but those first two years were run by ad hoc groups with the support of the Downtown Association.
This wasn’t long after the dreaded and controversial downtown revitalization that pushed sidewalks out and halved the lanes on Sherman. The city passed an LID and turned a volunteer group of business owners into the Downtown Association. And those first car shows helped introduce the community to the new downtown.
About that time, this new Downtown Association hired a manager named Suzanne Kaderka. I was a business owner, and within five minutes of meeting her, I knew she was perfect for the job. She really built the foundation of the DTA, and in December 1991, set up the first official Downtown Events Committee planning session — which happened to take place in the Kaderka living room.
Month by month, we discussed the year 1992. When we got to June, I said if we had another car show we needed to name it and sell T-shirts. We tossed names around and I threw out Car d’Lane. Ice cream and fudge guy Don Ulenkott, standing at the easel, asked how to spell it. Head bobbing turned into smiles. Bam. Car d’Lane. Ask Cheryl Burchell; she may remember it better.
That was the easy part. A real event, one we hoped would double in size, demanded stuff like registration, awards, music, logistics and a lot of man hours. We needed help. The obvious decision was call who we knew from earlier shows, the guys with the NICCC. They successfully pitched it to their club and we became partners. And boy, what a team we were. And continued to be long after I bowed out 10 years later.
The NICCC is full of wonderful people. They donate the money they make as an organization; running a car show isn’t out of profit, but of love. I have no idea what financial terms existed, but I think the DTA got more than their money’s worth from the club. The show wasn’t created as a money maker, it was created as an event. Paying for itself was our only monetary concern.
The DTA has done a great job not only sustaining, but growing many of this community’s most loved events. And I am sure that this year’s Car d’Lane will be as wonderful as it always has been. I know I’ll be there. But it just won’t be the same without those blue satin jackets.
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Dave Walker is also a former member of the Coeur d’Alene City Council.