BERKLEY — The annual Woodward Dream Cruise brings thousands of car enthusiasts and visitors alike to the corridor from Eight Mile Road to Pontiac. But first, Berkley has its own car parade.
The 19th annual Berkley CruiseFest car parade will again serve as a kickoff event for the Dream Cruise, as roughly 400 cars will be on display Aug. 16 along 12 Mile Road. While the Dream Cruise is more about watching cars drive by on Woodward, the CruiseFest event sees the cars slowly cruise by to give onlookers a good view of the classic cars.
“We love the Dream Cruise and we love having Berkley be a part of it, but the CruiseFest is a different way for people to see cars as they go very slowly, and it is only classic cars,” Theresa McArleton, deputy director of the Berkley Parks and Recreation Department, said. “We keep it around 400 cars and it is a very family-friendly event. The event highlights the Berkley downtown and we just think offers people such a different way to view classic cars, and a nice way to experience the entire event.”
The CruiseFest parade kicks off at 6:30 p.m., as cars will cruise west along 12 Mile Road from Roseland Park Cemetery, at the corner of Woodward and 12 Mile, to Greenfield Road. That section of 12 Mile will be closed off to through-traffic during the parade with the section of 12 Mile between Buckingham Avenue and Coolidge Highway closed after the parade.
The parade won’t be the only event that draws families in, however. There will be inflatable games for kids starting at 6 p.m., and live music from The Magic Bus will take place on a stage at the corner of 12 Mile and Robina Avenue beginning at 7:30 p.m.
“I think the CruiseFest is something that people look forward to in the Berkley area,” McArleton said. “They can sit at one spot along 12 Mile and see a lot of their favorite cars and costumes and enjoy some events afterwards. There is live music, food, dancing and it is just a really fun community event for everyone to participate in.”
Mark Coon has been a volunteer on the CruiseFest committee since the second year it took place. From time to time, Coon shows some of his classic cars in the parade, but recently he has taken a more involved role with organizing the event.
Whether he is showing cars or not, Coon feels CruiseFest is an important event in the Berkley area.
“For me personally, I am interested in old cars and there are others who are interested in them, as well, so this is my way of giving back to the city by helping organize or showing my cars,” Coon said. “The event brings out thousands of people to our downtown area for a one-day event, and for the nonresidents, it gives them a picture of the city of Berkley and what it is like here. This is a little oasis of an event off the Dream Cruise and has a very hometown feel to it.”
Out-of-town visitors are a big part of the CruiseFest event, McArleton said. From people who sign up to drive cars in the parade, to those who just come to enjoy the festivities, the event draws in a lot of business for Berkley.
“We have people who come and register their cars from Canada and other states, so people know about this event and it is their purpose for coming this way,” McArleton said. “Our businesses will stay open later in the evening with their doors open because there are people walking around on the streets and it is a big weekend for the economy in our downtown district, especially for stores and restaurants. People can just walk around and pop in and out of stores and buy what they like.”
The cars that cruise down 12 Mile are classics, but the event draws visitors from all different generations. Something about seeing old cars that are well taken care of resonates with everyone, McArleton said, and brings people together.
“It’s funny. I think it reminds the older generations of a time gone by and they appreciate the cars they do not see on the roads anymore,” she said. “For the younger generation, it is really cool to see a lot of these cars that are brightly colored and shaped differently than cars now. It is a mix between something for older people and younger people and it just makes people feel connected in some sort of way.
“Everyone likes a little piece of history, whether they experienced it or not.”
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