Organizers Kim Barich and Jim Mischel pose for a photograph at last year’s Cruisin’ Gratiot car show at First State Bank.

Organizers Kim Barich and Jim Mischel pose for a photograph at last year’s Cruisin’ Gratiot car show at First State Bank.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Cruisin’ Gratiot attracts volunteers, benefits charities

By: Maria Allard | Roseville-Eastpointe Eastsider | Published June 5, 2023


EASTPOINTE — Paul Mastalanski has not missed an Eastpointe Cruisin’ Gratiot since the annual event began in 1999.

The Eastpointe resident has attended each one, volunteering his time at different car shows to make sure the parking runs smoothly and to help provide security.

He was cruising down the avenue in one of his Corvettes when he noticed the various car shows highlighted during the first Cruisin’ Gratiot. He pulled over, joined in on the classic car camaraderie and has been an active participant ever since. Mastalanski owns three Corvettes: a 1977, a 2016 and a 2021. Reminiscing and checking out the classic cars brings back good memories.

“It’s like the way it used to be in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s,” Mastalanski said. “We re-create it for a day or two.”

During the three-day Cruisin’ Gratiot event, Mastalanski and a crew are in charge of parking at the car shows.

“I’ll be out there 12, 14 hours a day,” he said. “People start parking their cars at 6 in the morning.”

One job is to make sure that it doesn’t tie up traffic or interfere with customers parking in the city to conduct business during the day.

Also present on the avenue during Eastpointe Cruisin’ Gratiot is Pat Hogan, vice president of the St. Vincent de Paul Conference at St. Basil the Great Catholic Church in Eastpointe. St. Basil is one of the five charities that benefit from Cruisin’ Gratiot.

Every year on the official cruise day, Hogan and other St. Vincent de Paul volunteers set up a table outside Pep Boys, 24600 Gratiot Ave. Suite B., to sell official Cruisin’ Gratiot merchandise, including T-shirts and hats. Groups of two volunteer in shifts from 7:30 a.m. until 9 p.m.

“People come and stop. Some people get a T-shirt every year,” Hogan said. “I really think (the cruise) is good for the city. I think it’s great if you like people, cars and T-shirts.”

The cruise committee donates a stipend for the day to the St. Basil volunteers. That money, in turn, goes back into the church’s St. Vincent de Paul program.

“We are all volunteers. We do home visits. We try to serve people that live within the boundaries of the church,” Hogan said, adding that St. Basil also assists churches that do not have a St. Vincent de Paul Conference. “Most of our funding comes from our parishioners.”

And the additional money from Eastpointe Cruisin’ Gratiot is certainly a huge help. Funds are used to help neighbors  pay their rent, utility bills, and for food and clothing. Furniture also is provided, and the church has a food pantry.

“Whatever the need, we try to provide,” Hogan said.

Eastpointe Cruisin’ Gratiot raises money for four other charities: the Eastpointe Lions Club, the East Detroit Tiger Cats, Odd Fellows Eastwood Lodge No. 496 in Eastpointe, and  Love Life Family Christian Center in Eastpointe. In past years, the cruise committee also has donated to the Kiwanis Clinton Township and the Michigan Military Technical & Historical Society in Eastpointe.

For more information on Cruisin’ Gratiot, visit