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June 6, 2012

Volunteers help cruisers enjoy a smooth ride

By Maria Allard
C & G Staff Writer

EASTPOINTE — Back in the 1950s, Jerry Stover was often found zipping up and down Woodward Avenue with other classics built for speed.

“We’d race at about every stop light,” Stover remembered. “We were just having fun, going to all the drive-ins and whatnot.”

While cruising remains a part of Stover’s past, it’s also a large part of the present. For several years, the 68-year-old Fraser resident has volunteered his time for the annual Cruisin’ Gratiot.

This year’s festivities begin June 11 at Eastpointe Manor and run until cruise day, June 16. Cruise day events are from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., with a VIP parade at 1 p.m., and the official cruise is from 3-8 p.m. All events happen between Eight Mile and 10 Mile roads along Gratiot Avenue.

It’s people like Stover who help make the event a success every year.

“You don’t see any arguing,” he said. “Car people are just great people. Everyone is just having a good time.”

Stover volunteers at various car shows held during the week and also assists cruisers with registering their prized possessions for events. With six of his own classic cars, Stover fits right in with the Cruisin’ Gratiot vibe.

“The cars are the main attraction, and there’s the camaraderie of meeting all your friends there,” Stover said. “That’s half the fun, all the new friends I’ve made. In the summer, we run into each other all the time and keep in touch in the winter.”

Stover owns three 1956 Oldsmobiles, a ’57 Lincoln convertible, a 1977 Oldsmobile and a 1979 Corvette. One of the Olds is a convertible.

“I like the convertibles in the summer,” he said. “If it looks like rain, I’ll take one with a top on it.”

Sue Young is another volunteer who works the event, so everyone has a “wheel” good time during Cruisin’ Gratiot. The Eastpointe resident has helped out since the first cruise in 1999. This year, Young will serve as the grand marshal and help lead the crowd in the VIP parade on cruise day.

“I didn’t expect it,” Young said. “It’s quite an honor.”

For many years, Young has helped Carole Curley — wife of one-time Eastpointe mayor Harvey Curley — sell T-shirts and cruise packages with sales benefiting various local charities. Young also has sat in the judge’s chair for the popular Gratiot Idol singing contest.

Young usually spends cruise day in front of the Villa restaurant registering drivers.

“During the week, I head out there, too,” she said. “It’s fun to be with the crowd. You talk to the people. The best thing is taking the registration.”

That’s because it gives Young the opportunity to listen to stories about how the cruisers obtained their prized possessions.

“I love hearing it all,” said Young, adding that many car owners treat their classics like “a little baby.”

The packets she and Curley sell include a lane sticker for the cruise, a car plate, a plaque and a brochure of all the events.

Visit www.cruisin-gratiot.com for all the Cruisin’ Gratiot details.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Maria Allard at allard@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1045.