Parties part of the fun of cruising

Family-friendly events enhance cruise experience

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published August 18, 2014

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — While the biggest draw of the Harper Charity Cruise is, by far, the cars, it’s also a great time for local businesses to thank their customers and kick back with a fun party.

At Mancuso Florist, 24440 Harper Ave., owner Frank Mancuso said they hand out roses to ladies passing by while collecting donations for the charities that benefit from the cruise.

“We’ve been doing it every year,” he said. “Everyone has a good time. All the employees stay on their own time. They like to do that, too — sit around and talk to the customers.”

Anyone who passes by is welcome to join in the fun, and a delivery driver at the shop belongs to an antique car club, so there are always lots of fun cars to come and ogle.

“All the people walking by, a lot of them are customers so they’ll come up and say hello, talk a little bit, where you don’t get to do that a lot of time,” Mancuso said.

He said he usually gives out close to 600 roses each year, and they also have a little tag on them where women can check out the website to see if they were handed the lucky stem, which wins them a dozen roses.

“People like that, too,” he said.

At least a dozen other businesses will have cruise-sanctioned parties, as well. A map of party locations, and where portable toilets are located, can be found inside today’s issue of the Sentinel. Cruise Chairperson Tom Ulrich said some of the parties are by invitation only, but even so, many times they draw classic cars that are available for passersby to see.

For the children, Bagnasco & Calcaterra Funeral Home, 25800 Harper Ave., will host activities for those 12 and younger for the second year in a row, with two inflatable bouncers, three Shriner clowns and snow cones in its north lot.

“We’ve always had one of the larger parties on the avenue,” said Tom Rood, managing partner of Bagnasco & Calcaterra. “There’s always a lot of kids (and it) seemed like most of them are a little bored.”

With two parking lots, he said they only needed one for their invitation-only party and had more than 400 children visit during the two hours their activities were open in 2013. This year, the children’s activities, co-sponsored by the Teolis family of Expert Carpet Cleaning in St. Clair Shores, will be open from 5-7 p.m.

“It gives them somewhere for the kids to burn off some energy,” Rood said. “I was really happy last year. By the second hour, we had kids coming ’cause they heard from other kids.”

In the funeral home’s south parking lot, “Loco Joe” will spin tunes from the 1950s for passersby to enjoy while they look at classic cars in the lot, although the food tent they put up is just for invited clients and friends.

“It’s a way for … people to have a connection to us outside of the normal sad time,” he said. “It’s a way to give back to the community in more of a lighter, fun way than we do on a normal day-to-day basis.”