This cab-forward 1963 Chevrolet Corvair Rampside 95 pickup, complete with a rear-mounted, air-cooled engine, owned by Roger Rooney, of Roseville, is among the many sweet rides present at the 2021 Cruisin’ Gratiot celebration June 17.

This cab-forward 1963 Chevrolet Corvair Rampside 95 pickup, complete with a rear-mounted, air-cooled engine, owned by Roger Rooney, of Roseville, is among the many sweet rides present at the 2021 Cruisin’ Gratiot celebration June 17.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Cruisin’ Gratiot returns to Eastpointe

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published June 18, 2021

 John Viviano, of Hazel Park, is among those attending the first day of activities at the cruise. He brought along his 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible, which he has owned for 19 years. He even showed off the original receipt from when it cost $4,100 as a new car.

John Viviano, of Hazel Park, is among those attending the first day of activities at the cruise. He brought along his 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible, which he has owned for 19 years. He even showed off the original receipt from when it cost $4,100 as a new car.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Not all classics have four wheels. Mike Ignasiak, of Eastpointe, attends Cruisin’ Gratiot on his and his wife’s Solex moped from the 1970s.

Not all classics have four wheels. Mike Ignasiak, of Eastpointe, attends Cruisin’ Gratiot on his and his wife’s Solex moped from the 1970s.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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EASTPOINTE — The 2021 celebration of Cruisin’ Gratiot was back in full force up and down Gratiot Avenue during its first night, June 17.

After the 2020 cruise was canceled due to COVID-19, many in the community were pleased to see hot rods, roadsters and classic cars back on the streets of Eastpointe.

“We have 52 cars here tonight at the First State Bank,” City Councilman and event co-organizer Harvey Curley said June 17. “It’s been very successful so far on the first day. People are very excited since we didn’t have a cruise last year, so this is like a coming out party for us. It’s very exciting.”

The organizers said they were seeing the same numbers they would expect for the first night of the event, despite it being shortened from six to three days this year.

“I think it’s been really good. We’ve got lots of good cars, lots of great drivers, and I’ve been talking to some of our people who come every year,” remarked co-organizer and former Eastpointe Mayor Suzanne Pixley. “That’s what’s nice. It’s a family affair. We’ve got uncles and his nephews, or sons coming with their dad.”

Spirits were high on the first night of the event. The Eastsider went to press during the afternoon June 18, before the rest of the Cruisin’ Gratiot activities.

“They’re anxious like a kid in a candy shop,” remarked Curley. “They’re coming out and asking about Saturday and getting their passes for the dedicated lane. They’re getting their T-shirts. (Normally) we have people showing up as early as 6:30 a.m. on the Saturday of the cruise. People are that excited. … We’re expecting close to 90,000 people out here on Saturday.”

“I saw an interesting Chevy, there’s a new (Corvette) up front, and I just saw a new Dodge Charger pull in,” Pixley added. “I like the old cars in particular. There’s an old beige 1930 Ford pickup right next to me.”

Many of the cruisers were happy to be back out and able to participate in the cruise once more. Among them was Eastpointe resident Gary Miron.

“It’s nice to be back and outside. It’s nice to see other people outside,” he said. “It’s great to see all the cars out,” remarked Miron. “I hope it continues on for a long time.”

Miron has attended Cruisin’ Gratiot for several years and thinks it is one of Eastpointe’s best attractions — perhaps its very best.

“I love the cruise; I try to go every year,” he said. “I had to miss a few because I moved away for a while, but the cruise is back and so am I. I have a 1964 Mustang convertible, which I bring. I like the people and the nice atmosphere.”

St. Clair Shores resident and former Eastpointe resident Frank DiClementi is another longtime attendee of Cruisin’ Gratiot.

“We’ve been coming to the cruise for 20 years. I’ve got shirts from just about every one of them. I love the camaraderie, Nine Mile, and the fact that it’s a great cruise. … I have a 1967 Shelby Mustang and a 2004 (Chevrolet Super Sport Roadster).”

DiClementi said the best part was being able to see some familiar faces and continue some old traditions.

“All our buds — all the old goombahs — come,” he said, laughing. “I’ve been coming here for 20 years, and I love to see all my friends and getting to hang out with them.”

A few new faces were among those attending the cruise.

“This is my first time here. I was just going home, and I saw the car show going on and I stopped,” said Eastpointe resident Ron Day. “I think this makes the community stand out. I hope they have it going on for years to come. I’ll be back.”

“It’s pretty nice. I’ll be back on Saturday,” added Detroit resident Sheldon Inman, who also was attending for the first time with his 1968 Chevelle. “It’s a great event, and I look forward to being a part of it.”

Although the threat of COVID-19 is receding, it was still on people’s minds during the large outdoor gathering.

“We’re being very careful at the high school (which is the site of car shows on Friday and Saturday),” Curley explained June 17. “People want to know if they need to have a mask on if they haven’t gotten their shots, and I would say it’s not a bad idea to do that, but we aren’t putting any restrictions in place. People are being very cooperative.”

Most in attendance didn’t seem worried, and Pixley said everyone she had spoken to said they had been vaccinated weeks earlier.

“I haven’t heard any negative comments so far about coming back,” she said. “I think the majority of people who are driving got the double vaccine. Because it’s outdoors, it’s a lot safer. I think if you haven’t gotten the vaccine, you should still stay socially distanced, but most people are being responsible.”

Pixley said a lot of people are eager to be back in public and able to take part in events such as Cruisin’ Gratiot.

“I think it brings a lot of people to the city from the local area,” she said. “They have a good time, and I think when we’ve had so many problems in the last year with being stuck inside that people are anxious to get outside, to see people and to talk to old friends. I saw an old friend out in public today for the first time in months.”


RELATED: For more summer events, check out our Summertime Fun page, sponsored by Macomb Center for the Performing Arts.

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