Harper Cruisers enjoy intimate, family-friendly atmosphere

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published August 28, 2014

 A Buick travels Harper Avenue at 11 Mile Road during the 2014 Harper Charity Cruise Aug. 27.

A Buick travels Harper Avenue at 11 Mile Road during the 2014 Harper Charity Cruise Aug. 27.

Photo by Patrica O’Blenes

ST. CLAIR SHORES — August’s wicked weather couldn’t stop the 2014 Shorewood Kiwanis Harper Charity Cruise, which roared into town on a sunny summer night with hotrods, classic cars and more.

With car enthusiasts and people-watchers alike crowding the street and sidewalks, visitors said they enjoy the intimate feel of the cruise and the fact that it’s so easy to see the cars.

“It took me two years to build it, and I’ve been driving it the last six years,” said Gary Mulder, of Clinton Township. He brought his red 1934 Chevrolet three-window coupe to this year’s cruise.

He said he’s been attending the Harper Cruise longer than he can remember; his son is now in his 20s but was just a little boy when the pair ended up on a city of St. Clair Shores calendar with their classic car.

“(The cruise is) large enough to see a big variety of cars,” he said. “I get here mid-afternoon and drive up and down ’til I see a spot that looks appealing.”

Sitting outside Apollo Heating and Cooling was employee Laurie Hill, of St. Clair Shores, who said she enjoys the family-friendly atmosphere of the cruise.

“We love coming out and looking at all the cars,” she said. “It’s fun for the kids every year. It’s nice for the families to come out and see families you know in the neighborhoods … and, of course, the cars.”

The cruise gives back to local charities each year, including Tree of Hope Foundation in St. Clair Shores. Selling T-shirts on the cruise route, Tree of Hope President Pam Moffitt said things were going well. Proceeds from the sales of T-shirts and other memorabilia go to charity.

“It’s a beautiful night and people are having a good time,” she said. “This is a wonderful event.”

Vincent Haliburton, of Oxford, brought his 1970 SS Chevelle out to the cruise, which he said he had completely overhauled over the past three years. When asked what has been the best thing he’s seen at this year’s cruise, he said he had seen a red trike driven by a man in a Santa Claus suit.

“That kind of sticks out in my mind,” he said.

All along Harper Avenue, businesses took the time to thank their clients and customers, as well as to promote themselves.

Amy Kosmalski, a stylist at Salon Muse, said this is the first year the business has had a cruise-sanctioned party, but they always hand out cards and refreshments to those strolling by.

“I love that it just brings people to St. Clair Shores,” she said.

“We come every year (to) relive our past,” said Cindy Newell, of St. Clair Shores. “We’ve had a lot of classic cars we wish we still had.”

Other than a few minor tickets for squealing tires, St. Clair Shores Police Traffic Sgt. Jenna Conrad said there were no major incidents during the cruise.

On patrol that night, Officer Jack Latour said the cruise brought out a very “diverse group of people … in harmony.”

“Good weather, good people and a whole lot of fun … all for a great cause,” he said. “It’s a great event.”

Some attended to relive memories made by those who could no longer come themselves.

Karen Lowry, of Warren, said her brother-in-law, Nick Triglia, had always made it a point to come to the Harper Cruise with his 1947 Ford hotrod. He died in March.

“He grew up with Billy Bagnasco,” said Alice Triglia, of Warren, Nick’s wife, who said they made sure to come to the annual party at Bagnasco & Calcaterra Funeral Home, “just because he’d want his car here. It’s all of his friends he grew up with.”