CLINTON TOWNSHIP — You don’t have to be a gearhead, own a hotrod or even know much about cars to admire the revved-up rides that circle Gratiot every year during the August cruise.
Now in its 11th year, the Clinton Township Gratiot Cruise will run Aug. 4. Classics, muscle cars, hot rods and a diverse group of makes and models will drive the five-mile loop from 14 Mile north to north of Metropolitan Parkway, and back again.
“Our cruise is entirely focused on being a family cruise,” said cruise chairperson Shanon Rupkus. “You can bring your kids out and enjoy a family day.”
Spectators can wander the sidelines and admire the myriad vehicles lining Gratiot. Or they can join one of the numerous gatherings going on inside and outside businesses.
Local community organizations and cruise-sponsoring businesses also will have booths in front of the Regional Shopping Center, just north of 15 Mile.
Rupkus encouraged businesses along the strip to open their doors the day of the cruise.
“We’re going to bring the people to them,” she said. “If their business is closed up, the people can’t see what they have to offer.”
The cruise itself will begin at noon with a parade of local dignitaries departing from cruise headquarters, the McLaren Macomb building at Metropolitan Parkway and Gratiot. The cruising will last until about 6 p.m.
There is no cost or pre-registration necessary to participate.
Cruise spokeswoman Tracey Moro said the Clinton Township cruise seems to attract an increasing number of classics.
“We’re seeing people come from out-of-state, as well,” she added.
“We get promoted with all the Autopalooza events, which is all over the state, so that helps to draw people from outside Clinton Township and the metro Detroit area. It’s really helped us grow, too.”
For the fourth year, cruisers can look forward to displaying their classic rides during a series of pre-cruise car shows held the week leading up to the cruise.
The shows will run on July 29 at the Sanders & Morley Candy factory on Hall Road; July 30 at the Big Boy restaurant on Groesbeck, north of Cass Avenue; July 31 at WiseGuys Bar & Grill on Garfield, north of 18 Mile; Aug. 1 at the ConCorde Inn on Gratiot, south of Hall Road; and Aug. 2 at Clancy’s Irish Pub on Hayes, south of 19 Mile.
The shows run from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday at a different Clinton Township business each night. There is no pre-registration or cost to enter a car. Each of the establishments will have musical entertainment, prizes, car judging, and food and drink specials.
For those showing a vehicle in the events, cruise organizers will be offering a “passport” that they can get stamped at each car show. Those with the most stamps at the end of the week will be eligible for prizes at the Cruise Car Show Awards presentation at 3 p.m. on cruise day, Aug. 4, at the cruise headquarters, the McLaren Macomb building. You must be present to win.
The final car show will be the Cruise Car Show the day of the cruise at the McLaren Macomb building. The Cruise Car Show is the only show in which drivers will have to register their car and pay a fee: $15 before the cruise or $20 the day of. People can pre-register online at www.ctgratiotcruise.com or at any one of the previous five car shows.
Kid-oriented activities also will be taking place at the McLaren Macomb building.
And there is one event for which participants don’t need a driver’s license to enjoy; a pedal car cruise will begin at 11:15 a.m. from the McLaren Macomb building. Participants should arrive early and bring their own pedal cars, if possible. A limited supply of pedal cars will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, as well.
Down the road, local community groups, churches, charities and a few sponsoring businesses will be handing out information about themselves from booths in front of the Regional Shopping Center, just north of 15 Mile.
No tax dollars are used to put on the cruise. The event is entirely self-funded, thanks in large part to local business sponsorships, including those from this year’s top sponsors, McLaren Macomb Hospital and Dorian Ford.
Pat Moran, chairperson of the Clinton Township Gratiot Downtown Development Authority, said the cruise may bring some to food establishments the day of the cruise, but for most of the businesses — the furniture stores, the car dealerships, the clothing outlets and others — the economic benefit lies with the residual business that comes from this kind of public exposure. Last year, the Gratiot Cruise attracted more than 200,000, according to police estimates.
The cruise also showcases the improvements along the corridor, including local businesses’ investments into their own establishments, as well as the ongoing beautification efforts of the median that separates the northbound and southbound lanes. Moran said future projects could include putting in pedestrian lighting and opening an adopt-a-garden-bed program.
“Honestly, it’s a lot of work, so we try to put on our best face (during the cruise),” added Moran, the owner of Moran Chevrolet dealership, which finished a renovation and expansion project last year. “What you want is you want them to come back next year.”
For more information, visit www.ctgratiotcruise.com.
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