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June 4, 2014

Week of auto events leads up to Eastpointe cruise

By Kevin Bunch
C & G Staff Writer

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EASTPOINTE — Festivities for Cruisin’ Gratiot are starting earlier than ever this year, according to one of the Eastpointe-based cruise’s organizers, Harvey Curley.

While the cruise typically has several days of car shows and events leading up to the cruise itself, Curley said that for the first time a “cruise kickoff” will be taking place from 4:30 p.m. until around 10 p.m. June 6 at Merollis Chevrolet.

“We’ll have our T-shirts on sale and lane passes, and that type of thing,” Curley said. “We’ll have a band, all of the Merollis Chevrolet family will be there, and the cruisers will have a chance to get tickets to the quilt.”

The quilt is made up of all 16 T-shirts that have been produced for the event from 1999 through 2014, with the drawing to win the quilt taking place June 14 at the East Detroit High School.

Additionally, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) will have a presentation during the kickoff about its “M-3 is the place to be” campaign, which promotes Gratiot Avenue as a place to set up businesses from Mount Clemens to downtown Detroit, Curley said.

“It’s like you see M-22 stickers around the state for that upper Michigan route,” City Manager Steve Duchane said. “And another well-known route is Woodward Avenue, M-1. This is the east side’s version of that.”

The Michigan Military and Technical Museum also is planning a car show the same day, from 3-8 p.m. Curley said he hoped to be out there, as well, adding that there is room in Eastpointe to have multiple events going on at the same time.

Cruise festivities continue June 10 with a car show at the Cloverleaf from 4-8 p.m. First State Bank will be holding a “mini cruise” June 11 with refreshments and shirt sales, and another miniature car show will take place June 12 at the parking lot for Villa Restaurant and Wow.

East Detroit High School’s parking lot will host larger car shows on Friday and Saturday, and Curley said all those events would run from 4-8 p.m., like the Cloverleaf’s.

The cruise itself is on June 14, running from Eight Mile Road to 10 Mile Road in a loop using the innermost lanes on Gratiot. Curley said that in addition to festivities at East Detroit High School, the old Colonial Dodge property would be featuring custom cars courtesy of Inch Customs.

“It’s a custom auto place in the city that makes custom cars,” he said. “We’re excited to finally get them involved in the cruise after so many years.”

The cruise kicks off at 11 a.m. from Colonial Dodge, and Curley said it typically runs until around 8 p.m. People are welcome to set up spots along the Gratiot median, watch the cars and cook some barbecue, he added.

Duchane said the cruise opens with a VIP parade featuring various city officials and other community leaders, some of whom have been working on getting the cruise rolling along this year. He added that police, fire and public works employees would all be out there to make sure the cruise runs smoothly.

Besides the businesses hosting cruise events, Curley said the Oddfellows are helping with plaques for the drivers.

Curley said some people have suggested merging Eastpointe’s cruise with others in the area, such as Mount Clemens and Clinton Township, but he said he did not believe it would be a good idea. He said that partially is because of the difficulty in managing such a large cruise, but also the timing.

“It’s good that everyone has their own time and place to have (a cruise),” Curley said. “We have one big one in the summer, and then it’s all over for the year. This way, everyone has a chance to go to one that fits their schedule.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Kevin Bunch at kbunch@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.