Local community pulls together during COVID-19 lockdown by ‘cruisin cuz of corona’
Published at | Updated at
ST. ANTHONY – As social distancing becomes the new normal during COVID-19, a local community is finding a way to stay connected.
St. Anthony was a flurry of activity Saturday night as residents lined their cars on Bridge Street to “cruise cuz of corona.”
“I couldn’t even imagine it was going to turn out like it did and that we would get the amount of people that showed up. It was insane,” Event organizer Nolan VanderLinden tells EastIdahoNews.com.
Between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., VanderLinden says about 125 cars drove the entire 12 block loop of Bridge Street.
“We came back and made a loop at 11:00, and you would’ve never thought there was anybody in town. It was dead from one end of Bridge Street to the other,” says VanderLinden.
Many people used the opportunity to visit with their friends and neighbors from their vehicles and to use the drive-thru at restaurants in town.
“It really helped the businesses in St. Anthony that are doing curbside and drive-thru service,” he says. “One of Arctic Circle’s employees said it was one of the busiest nights they had had in weeks.”
Other restaurants like Idaho Burger Grill also report having an influx of people.
“We have been really worried about business tanking since the stay-home order, but we were actually busier last night than we have been in months, and that is entirely in drive-thru and phone orders,” Idaho Burger Grill Owner Krysten Davis says. “We’ve been thrilled by the support the community has shown us thus far, and not just last night.”
Soda Vine and Big J’s Pizza and Burgers had a line of people all night long, VanderLinden says.
VanderLinden remembers dragging main with his friends as a teenager, which was a popular trend that continued for many years before it died off in the 1990s.
With everyone on lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, VanderLinden felt this was a unique way to bring people together and bring back a childhood tradition at the same time.
“We laughed and joked about it for a bit and then just decided this was something we could make happen. I created a Facebook page called ‘Cruisin’ cuz of Corona’ (a few days before the event) and started sharing it. Boy, it took off!” VanderLinden says.
Supporting local business was part of VanderLinden’s idea, too, and he is grateful for the response.
“I put it out on our Facebook page to get everybody to stop and visit our local businesses during these trying times,” Vanderlinden says.
The St. Anthony Police Department even made an appearance, Vanderlinden says, and officers kept an eye out to make sure everyone was avoiding gatherings outside of their vehicle. The police department was not available for comment Sunday, but Vanderlinden says they did a phenomenal job.
“Our police force was just phenomenal,” he says. “They did a great job last night and they had their hands full.”
VanderLinden says he appreciates the turnout and the way everybody supported each other, while still practicing social distancing.
“It was overwhelming. It was a great (gathering) for the community that didn’t tarnish it at all,” he says. “It gave a lot of people hope that — if we keep our heads up — we’ll get through this.”