EastpointeJune 18, 2012
Cruise brings thousands to Eastpointe
By Sara Kandel
C & G Staff Writer
Cruisin’ Gratiot had another successful run on June 16 as thousands of people flocked to the city for the 14th year of the event.
City officials all agreed this year’s cruise was one of the busiest in awhile with all 400 lane passes selling out before the big day and hundreds of other cruisers hitting the strip to cruise in the open lanes.
“We had a lot more cars this year, and lane stickers sold out,” said Police Chief Mike Lauretti. “With more cars and larger crowds than last year, we estimated that about 160,000 people came through the city on cruise day.”
Some cruisers came from as far as Ann Arbor to participate in the two-mile eastside cruise. Angie Nicefield and her family drove in from Port Huron; for them the cruise is a summer tradition.
“We have a ’65 Mustang and we come down every year to watch cars, walk up and down and just have a good time,” Nicefield said.
Nicefield and her family set up near the hopping Oddfellows tent, where live entertainment and a beer tent drew thousands of cruise-goers.
“There were a lot of people here last night but today will probably be even bigger,” said Pete Alvarez, an Oddfellow volunteering on June 16. “After we pay for the cost of the entertainment and other expenses, everything we raise today will go to charity, so it’s fun for a good cause.”
A block north of the Oddfellows Hall, other charities set up displays and booths in the All About Health parking lot.
“We have Detroit Dog Rescue and Eastside Teen Outreach as well as Made in Michigan Catering this year,” said John Hoffman, the store’s owner.
The store was closed during the cruise, but a crowd gathered in the parking lot to sample some Michigan-made sausage and listen to the street music performed by ETO teens.
On the west side of Gratiot, the Cloverleaf parking lot was overflowing with the crowd that gathered to be entertained by the Idol contest and Teen Angels — a dancing troupe booked by cruise volunteer Carol Corrie.
“They’re just great, aren’t they? So many people have stopped to watch them,” Corrie said. “It’s been such a great turnout.”
Mayor Pro Tem Bill Sweeney and wife Peggy watched the Teen Angels show before continuing on their walking loop around the cruise route.
“Look at all these people,” Sweeney said. “I’ve never been one to believe (the cruise) makes people want to move here, but it certainly puts Eastpointe in a positive spotlight. Just look at all the people. All you have to do is walk the cruise and you’ll see they’re all smiling too — it’s a great event.”
The influx of people to the city may not bring home sales, but all the cruise-goers certainly brought sales to local restaurants and businesses.
“We’ve had a lot of traffic through the store today,” said Donna Jaloski of Iron Ivy. “We’ve had pretty consistent sales all day too — it’s been good, really good.”
Christina Lazzana-Webster spent weeks lining up cruise-day fun at Big Top Popcorn, where crowds were treated to live entertainment, a bounce house, face painting, cotton candy and more.
“We had dance lessons earlier today with Fast Freddy teaching the hustle and ballroom, and it brought a lot of people over, and it’s been crazy ever since,” Lazzana-Webster said. “We’ve been here since 6 a.m., and so many people have been coming by that we haven’t had a chance to leave to check out the rest of the cruise.”
It was at the major car shows and at locations like Big Top and Cloverleaf that most of the crowd congregated.
“Pedestrian traffic was pretty clustered for most of the day but started spreading out around 6 p.m., and we were able to promptly shut down at 8 p.m. as usual,” said Lauretti.
Despite the large crowds and increased amount of cruisers, there were no major incidents on cruise day or during the week of events that led up to it.
“It was a great day and everyone was having a good time,” Lauretti said. “It’s a family cruise. People know that.”
“We are a community that, despite struggling, has maintained the values of a family town, and it’s a nice community to be a part of,” Sweeney said. “And that is especially apparent today.”
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