Cloud cover meant that cars like this Ford Mustang could show off their ground effects earlier in the evening at the 2019 Shorewood Kiwanis Harper Charity Cruise Aug. 28.

Cloud cover meant that cars like this Ford Mustang could show off their ground effects earlier in the evening at the 2019 Shorewood Kiwanis Harper Charity Cruise Aug. 28.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes

‘Bugs,’ bikes and more hit Harper for annual cruise

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published August 29, 2019

Featured Gallery (Click to view)


ST. CLAIR SHORES — The sound along Harper Avenue grows from a distant hum to a low roar as day progresses into evening on the last Wednesday in August.

The smell of summertime grilling mixes with exhaust fumes in a singular scent that can only mean one thing: It’s the night of the Shorewood Kiwanis Harper Charity Cruise.

Sitting out in front of Colonial Title, Cat Kelly, of Harrison Township, showed off her Tornado Red 1972 Volkswagen Beetle.

“I had a ’68; I worked my fingers to the bone. Then, because I had to eat, I had to sell it,” she said. “When I saw this, I had to have it.”

She’s now owned the VW Bug for a dozen years and has won trophies for the paint job. The original paint was done in Mexico, she said, where tornado means tornado, even in Spanish.

Her car was the first in a line of VWs outside of Colonial Title, where the Michigan Vintage Volkswagen Club has parked for the last decade on cruise night.

Lynn Anderson, of Clinton Township, was there with her 1965 Herbie the Love Bug car.

“I found him in a barn in Dundee,” she said. “The guy did it for his wife. She hated it. It sat in his barn for five years.”

Now, she said, her husband jokes that she loves the car more than she loves him sometimes.

“Having a star car, you don’t want to drive one if you don’t like attention,” she said. “Everyone’s taking your picture.”

Before it came to cruise Harper, Anderson’s Herbie cruised down to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, for Herbie’s 50th birthday celebration. They shared a cake with 40 other Herbies, including two that had been in the movies.

Ray DeBates, of Colonial Title, joked that the lawn outside the business is the “air-cooled headquarters,” because Volkswagen engines are cooled by air instead of coolant.

“I’m a fan of Volkswagens,” he said. “I’ve had several myself.”

It’s not just car enthusiasts who come out to the cruise. Golf carts, motorcycles, a skull on wheels and even a man riding a motorized cooler could be seen taking to Harper Avenue.

Donny O’Neil, of Chesterfield Township, brought his 2007 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic, which he had outfitted in blue lights, to the cruise.

“I like to ride. I just like watching all the old cars,” he said.

His friend, Mike Tances, of St. Clair Shores, bought his 2012 Victory motorcycle just the day before the cruise, but he already had it shined up and ready to go on cruise night.

“I just wanted to come out with this this year, hang out with friends,” he said.

Tances said that he’s been coming to the cruise as long as it’s been around.

“I just like watching the cars and the people,” he said. “Hanging out with my neighbors.”

Mario Griffin, of St. Clair Shores, brought his 2008 Chevrolet Corvette out to Harper just south of 11 Mile Road to support his friend’s new business, Sweet Life Cake Shop. He said he likes the atmosphere of the cruise, which he described as “chill” and “laid back.”

Vanessa Talarico, of Mount Clemens, said that she enjoys coming each year “just to be out and look at the cars with the community.”

Others sitting alongside Harper Avenue agreed.

“It’s always nice to have something like this in the Shores to bring out the residents and other people to the city,” said Susan White, of St. Clair Shores.