Community, businesses band together during Harper Charity Cruise

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published August 31, 2017

 Spectators watch the classics roll by during the 2017 Shorewood Kiwanis Harper Charity Cruise Aug. 30.

Spectators watch the classics roll by during the 2017 Shorewood Kiwanis Harper Charity Cruise Aug. 30.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

ST. CLAIR SHORES — Car lovers, car cruisers and those just looking to enjoy a summer night joined together for the 2017 Shorewood Kiwanis Harper Charity Cruise, which brought motorcycles, classic cars, trucks and more out to St. Clair Shores.

“Just seeing all the old cars and how they’re kept up ... I like to see the smiles on all the older people’s faces. They light up,” said Marvell Ross, of St. Clair Shores.

Like many people along the cruise route Aug. 30, Ross said he makes a point of coming to the cruise each year for the intimacy and closeness of the classic vehicles and a chance to mingle with neighbors and friends.

City Councilman Pete Accica agreed.

“This (is) here for the community. You get a chance to see the old cars” and spend time with friends and family, he said. “This is so much nicer than Woodward.”

Dan Shriner said he lives so close to the cruise route that he always makes a night of it.

“(I) just like the old cars. It brings back fond memories,” he said. “We just live a block away, so we just walk down. It makes it really nice.”

Those who don’t live as close often come to parties hosted by neighborhood businesses, which invite clients and customers to come spend an evening.

“I live and work in the community. I like to support the events that go on,” said Mikhail Youdin, an Edward Jones financial adviser on Harper Avenue. “As a resident and community member, I like to support the Kiwanis.”

Anthony Benenati, who owns Benenati Foot and Ankle Care Centers, said he began serving hot dogs to those attending the cruise five years ago and just enjoys spending the night out in the community.

“I’ve always been a big fan of cars and liked to cruise Gratiot,” he said. 

“We figure we can give to the community because they give to us and we love our jobs,” added medical assistant Memi Yatros.

Along with classic car admirers, those who have put in the years and effort to restore those vehicles enjoyed showing off the fruits of their labor.

Doug Isham, of St. Clair Shores, brought his 1971 Buick Skylark GSX to the cruise. He said he enjoys the process of restoring and maintaining a classic vehicle.

“It’s not a project, but it is because I’m never going to be done with it,” he said. “It’s a car you can work on with minimal specialty tools.”

Sterling Heights resident Gary Harris brought his 1988 Chevy Corvette convertible to the cruise. He has owned it since 1991 and said it’s only been in the rain twice, because of a trip to a Corvette convention in Kentucky.

“It’s 100 percent original,” he said. “The only thing that’s different is the tires.”

As its name implies, the cruise supports local charities through donations and the sale of T-shirts along the cruise route. Cindy Gardener, of the St. Clair Shores Cultural Committee, said they appreciate all the support from cruisers and visitors alike.

“It always draws a lot of really nice people, and they’re very supportive of the charities too,” she said.

St. Clair Shores police reported no major problems at the cruise. A 1984 Corvette caught fire at Ardmore Street and Harper Avenue around 9:15 p.m., but St. Clair Shores firefighters were able to extinguish the flames and there were no injuries reported.