When people drive their shiny hot rods out of yesteryear for a classic car cruise, it can’t help but draw a crowd.
That’s what happened during Roseville’s first Gratiot Cruise. They planned a cruise, and people came for the big event.
There was a man sitting on the side of the road wearing an Abe Lincoln-style top hat, people on bicycles who checked out the cars while pedaling down the lane and others stepping up to the curb to snap a shot of a custom car with their cameras because it was just that cool.
There were dark clouds and even a little bit of rain, and it may have kept some from heading out to Gratiot, but it didn’t keep everyone away.
“The first year cruise went real good; we discovered a few areas for improvement, but it went very well overall,” Council member Bill Shoemaker said. “Over 250 cars registered for the cruise lane; the weather held the total number of classic cars down. There are estimates of five to seven thousand people participating and I believe that number is accurate.”
Parents with sweatshirt-hooded babies pushed strollers down the street and grandparents showed off cars to their grandchildren.
It was a day for cars, families and even a bit of a pet parade as people brought out their classic-car loving dogs to the big event, as well.
A white poodle sat up regally in the front seat of a shiny classic car, panting happily as the vehicle passed spectators at cruise central, the Continental Lanes parking lot.
A man sat on the bench with his beagle, two sets of eyes intent on the cruise lane.
Fuzzy dice were everywhere, most matching the vehicles they decorated including a white Pontiac GTO passing by rows of cars parked at Continental Lanes, sporting pristine, white fuzzy dice to match.
One of the many vehicles at Continental Lanes was a 1948 Chevy Fleetline five-passenger coupe with fiery purple and blue paint.
They weren’t decals, the vehicle’s owner, David Watson, of St. Clair Shores, pointed out, and he should know because he painted them himself.
Like many classic car owners, Watson didn’t hesitate to show off his beautiful classic.
The car may look like it drove out of the 1940s, but it surely doesn’t feel like it for the driver. It has power windows, air conditioning, a tilting leather steering wheel, automatic trunk and more. He’s driven it to Kalamazoo many times and says, “I drive it anywhere and everywhere.”
One window sports a sticker that states, “Cruisin’ is not a crime.’”
He takes his vehicle to many cruises and now he gave Roseville’s first cruise a try.
“So far, so good,” Watson said of the cruise. “I think it’s going to be a success.”
A father, his daughter and grandson strolled down a row of cars at Continental Lanes. St. Clair Shores resident Clint Talbot said he thought having the cruise in Roseville was excellent as he walked with his daughter, Kelly Talbot, and her child, Caleb.
“He’s into cars with my dad,” Kelly Talbot said as she held onto the hand of Caleb, who peeked up underneath a baseball cap. “He’s been into cars since he’s been about 1 and a half.”
South of 12 Mile, the Roseville Caring Klowns set up shop, making balloon swords for kids passing by.
Clown Steve Chilcutt said he was just “sitting here, clowning, making balloons.”
He was enjoying the cruise.
“Reminds me of some of the ones I had as a kid,” he said of the cars. “At 69, I’ve seen a lot of cars.”
Nearby, the Roseville High School Auto Shop had a few classics displayed that they had worked on, including a shiny 1979 El Camino.
“The El Camino, we just finished painting the last day of school,” shop teacher Paul Tregembo Sr. said. “That was quite a project.
“They enjoy working on them,” he said of the students’ opportunities to do engine, body and other work on classic cars.
There are more than 200 students in the successful auto program at the high school, which is taught by both Tregembo and his son, Paul Tregembo Jr., who was also at the cruise.
Tregembo Sr. stood by his 1950s Ford F-1 pickup. He has taught auto shop in Roseville for the last 47 years.
“It was a dog catcher’s truck over in River Rouge,” he said of the truck’s history, adding that the truck has been to many places, including the World’s Fair in Washington.
He said it was great to see the cruise finally on the road, adding that some of those working on getting the cruise to happen were former students.
“It’s always been cruising Gratiot, hot cars and all that kind of thing,” he said. “It’s been a part of Roseville forever.”
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