Berkley resident Phil Hatzos’ 1978 Chevrolet Chevette will be one of more than 300 classic vehicles featured in the city’s CruiseFest Classic Car Parade on Friday, Aug. 19.

Berkley resident Phil Hatzos’ 1978 Chevrolet Chevette will be one of more than 300 classic vehicles featured in the city’s CruiseFest Classic Car Parade on Friday, Aug. 19.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

CruiseFest Classic Car Parade heads back to Berkley

By: Mike Koury | C&G Newspapers | Published August 9, 2022

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BERKLEY — Hundreds of classic vehicles will find their way to downtown Berkley this month for the annual CruiseFest Classic Car Parade.

The parade will take place starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19, on 12 Mile Road. The route will start at Woodward Avenue and continue to Greenfield Road.

According to Parks and Recreation Director Theresa McArleton, they’re still signing up cars for the parade, but there will be at least 300 classic vehicles that will hit the road.

As the event has gotten closer, McArleton said she’s felt the excitement from the drivers who are participating.

“People participating actually, honestly get really excited when the year changes,” she said. “We start getting calls (in) January, February, March from people just really excited to register, really wanting to make sure that they get in. For us, I would say around early-to-mid July is when it really starts  — we’re planning all year — but when it really starts getting exciting for us.”

Berkley resident Phil Hatzos will be one of those parade participants, as he’ll be taking his 1978 Chevrolet Chevette for a cruise.

Previously, Hatzos owned a 1976 version of the vehicle, but because of the Michigan winters, it had rusted out over the years. He came across the 1978 in perfect condition to replace his old Chevette.

“The ’76 was my original, my high school car,” he said. “I always wanted to put a V-6 in it, a bigger engine and stuff. And so I built it up. Some say I went overboard because it’s got a supercharger and nitrous and everything else on it.”

Hatzos said he always liked the Chevette because of its size, as the premise behind a muscle car is that it’s supposed to be a lightweight car with a big engine.

“As far as nostalgia, feelings and so forth, there’s some purists out there that, you know, if it wasn’t a bone stock original, they won’t look at it, but … it’s just my baby. I take pride in my work,” he said.

Hatzos will be taking part in his first CruiseFest in 10 years, and this time it will be with his niece, who received her license last year, behind the wheel.

The Berkley resident said he was looking forward to taking his ride back on the road for the parade.

“Berkley has always been a nice, close-knit community and I know a lot of people because I had 38 years with the Boy Scouts. So I mean, going up and down the aisle, I remember ‘Hey, Phil! Hey, Phil!,’ Everybody is screaming and yelling (at the parade). It’s just the atmosphere and the energy that’s out there,” he said.

Outside the parade, CruiseFest will hold a variety of activities on a shutdown 12 Mile, including live music, food trucks, a kids zone and an outdoor movie night.

McArleton said she’s excited for the parade to come back, especially after being able to hold it last year following the 2020 edition’s COVID-19-induced cancellation.

“There’s just more of an appreciation for the ability to gather, to be together and to really let Berkley and the city of Berkley shine, which is really the exciting part” she said.