Cruisin’ Gratiot expects a full week of classic car fun

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published June 7, 2016

 A fire truck from the Eastpointe Fire Department passes the 1957 Ford Ranchero owned by Joe Cucchiara, of Warren, during last year’s Cruisin’ Gratiot in Eastpointe. This year’s Cruisin’ Gratiot will take place June 18.

A fire truck from the Eastpointe Fire Department passes the 1957 Ford Ranchero owned by Joe Cucchiara, of Warren, during last year’s Cruisin’ Gratiot in Eastpointe. This year’s Cruisin’ Gratiot will take place June 18.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

EASTPOINTE — Cruisin’ Gratiot may not have too much that is new in its 2016 plans, but the long-running classic car cruise still has a full week of activities planned for enthusiasts.

Eastpointe Mayor Suzanne Pixley said that every day from June 13 until the cruise itself on June 18, the city will have a car show going on at different locations. Big Boy at Nine Mile Road and Gratiot Avenue will start things off June 13, followed by a show at the Cloverleaf restaurant, 24443 Gratiot Ave., June 14. First State Bank at 16100 E. Nine Mile Road will host a car show June 15, and the Villa Restaurant, 21311 Gratiot Ave., will have a car show June 15.

East Detroit High School at Nine Mile and Gratiot will hold car shows June 17 and 18; all weekday car shows will run from 4 to 8 p.m., Pixley said. Anyone who enters a car into one of those shows will get a form to fill out that will enter the owner in a raffle Saturday night at 7 p.m.; the grand prize is $4,000, while other prizes include gas cards worth a total of $500.

The cruise itself is set to begin with an opening ceremony and prayer service in the East Detroit High School parking lot at 11 a.m. June 18, Pixley said.

A parade of VIPs is scheduled for 1 p.m. This year’s grand marshal is set to be Cmdr. Michael Desmond, the U.S. Navy officer commanding the USS Detroit.

“We’re a pretty Navy town here,” Pixley said. “We’re excited because the (USS) Detroit has been christened and it’s going to be here in the fall, so we’ve been working a lot with (the USS Detroit) committee and their commander, Michael Desmond.”

In the event that Desmond is called away for service while the ship is at sea trials, members of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps will fill in, Pixley added.

The cruise itself will run until 8 p.m. between Eight Mile and 10 Mile, though there will be a closing ceremony at East Detroit High School at 7 p.m.

Pixley said the Eastpointe cruise continues to be set apart from others in the area by having the center lane of Gratiot be dedicated solely to registered cruisers during the event.

Lane passes cost $15 and will be available at the Eight Mile and 10 Mile turnarounds, Pixley added, or at any of the car shows during the week. They also can be purchased in advance at the St. Veronica Men’s Club or at the cruise headquarters at 17285 Stephens Road.

Cruise merchandise will be available through various charitable organizations during the event, like Eastside Teen Outreach, the East Detroit High School band, Breath of Life Church and Love Life Church. For their efforts, Pixley said, each of them will be receiving a $350 donation from the cruise committee. Merchandise locations will include City Hall, the high school parking lot and near Pep Boys.

The cruise added a “trolley” bus last year that went up and down Gratiot, stopping at local senior housing facilities and generally letting people see vehicles along the whole cruise route. Pixley said that a second trolley has been added this year that will ideally run on the opposite side of Gratiot.

“The trolley was a lot of fun,” Pixley said. “People got excited. It gives them the opportunity to see the whole entire stretch without having to walk the whole 4 miles on both sides.”

City Manager Steve Duchane praised the event as a seasonal icon in Eastpointe for people looking to relax and share a mutual interest in classic cars.

“It is a benchmark annually for the community and government marking summer,” Duchane said in an email. “It demonstrates pride and local placemaking in the most enjoyable way.”

Pixley said the cruise ultimately is a positive for the city, bringing in foot traffic to local businesses.

“It helps bring people in, and if they don’t reach out and have special offers to bring cruisers in, I think they’re missing out on an opportunity,” Pixley said. “Even if they don’t buy a single thing, they’re liable to come back.”

For more information on the cruise, visit www.cruisin-gratiot.com or call the cruise office at (586) 864-8971.