Cruising down memory lane

Classic car owners prepare to cruise a past favorite

By: Sara Kandel | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published July 24, 2013


ROSEVILLE — With memories of doing so in their teenage years, local classic car owners are gearing up for the long-awaited Roseville Gratiot Cruise.

It won’t be the same as it was back in the day — and most wouldn’t want it to be — but it’s the memories of yesteryear that put an added touch of excitement and nostalgia in the Roseville Heritage Foundation’s first Roseville Gratiot Cruise July 28.

“This is going to be the first cruise for Roseville — Eastpointe has been having their cruise for more than 10 years, and Clinton Township and Mount Clemens, but this is Roseville,” said Greg Evennou. “And Roseville is where we actually did our cruising in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, and we are going to be able to do it again and enjoy it in a family environment.”

Evennou, who owns a 1980 BMW motorcycle and a souped-up 1985 Ford Econoline ambulance, is a Roseville Heritage Foundation board member, and like many local car enthusiasts, he has fond memories of cruising Gratiot.

“My whole life, from the time I was 15 to when I was 30 even, I was cruising Gratiot whenever there was nothing else to do,” Evennou said. “Back then, it was jam-packed and we are hoping it will be jam-packed again this year, and next year, it will be across the whole city.”

Even though he knew it wouldn’t be the same type of cruising, Evennou got involved with the Roseville Heritage Foundation three years ago, when he first heard about their efforts to bring a classic car cruise to his hometown.

Fellow board member, Roseville resident and car enthusiast Jack Jacobson said that he’ll be taking his ’74 Corvette for a spin at the cruise.

“I’m going to be involved with the pre-registration and the registration at Continental on Sunday, but once that is done and it calms down a little bit and everybody is in place, then I’ll go cruise,” Jacobson said. “I’ve been working on this committee for three years and I didn’t do all this work — to make the cruise happen — not to cruise.”

For 62-year-old Fraser resident Leona Ferranti, the question isn’t whether she will go to the cruise, but what car she should bring to the cruise. Ferranti owns a 1971 Gran Torino and a 1973 Mustang convertible.

“I was born and raised in Roseville, and I’ve been waiting to cruise in Roseville again for a long time,” Ferranti said.

Frank Debinski, a 61-year-old St. Clair Shores resident, is hoping for good weather on cruise day so he can bring out his sky blue and white 1953 four-door Chevy Bel Air.

“You can tell mine from the rest of them because I belong to the Knights of Columbus and mine has Knights of Columbus plates,” said Debinski, before sharing his plan to mix community service with a favorite pastime on cruise day. “I plan to volunteer to help with prep at the cruise, but I intend to be driving it in the cruise later on Sunday.”

Debinski held the opinion proving popular among local cruisers — that the Roseville cruise has been long overdue.

“I think it is fantastic that it is happening, but it is long overdue,” Debinski said. “Now that it is here, though, people should come out because it is going to be a family-friendly event that everyone can enjoy.”

That’s just the message Roseville Heritage Foundation President Stephan Pawl has been trying to get out there. As much fun as weekends cruising the Gratiot strip might have been in years past, that’s not what this event is about.

“It’s called the Roseville Gratiot Cruise, but it is really more an event of nostalgia where proud people, who have spent thousands of dollars maintaining and investing in their cars throughout the times, can show off their pride and joy,” Pawl said.

“A lot of memories are going to go back to when they went to the Roseville Gratiot Drive-In or drove their classic cars up to the A&W or Top Hat, and we are really looking forward to this being a family event where people can share with their children and grandchildren the nostalgia and memories of the cars they grew up in.”

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