File photo by Sean Work

File photo by Sean Work

The 2018 Gratiot Cruise will run from noon to 6 p.m. Aug. 5, from 14 Mile Road to Wellington Crescent and back.

Gratiot Cruise prepares for big crowds Aug. 5

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published July 31, 2018


CLINTON TOWNSHIP — If there’s classic cars and sunshine, they will come.

The 2018 Gratiot Cruise, which extends from 14 Mile Road to Wellington Crescent and back in Clinton Township, will run from noon to 6 p.m. Aug. 5. Pre-cruise shows were scheduled to start July 30, after press time, and conclude Aug. 3.

Pre-cruise activities tend to get started around 9 a.m. Classic car show registrations will take place around 8 a.m., with opening ceremonies kicking off at about 11:10 a.m.

Held on the first Sunday in August every year since 2003, the event has drawn rave reviews from attendees. Event organizers, based on police estimates, say that attendance annually falls somewhere in the range of between 220,000 and 225,000 people. At the end of the day, weather plays a big role.

“I’m looking forward to a sunny day because it always makes it a lot more fun,” said Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon, who is also the event’s chairperson. “But we have such nice turnouts even when it’s a bit cloudy. … Gratiot Avenue really is synonymous with the automobile.”

Cannon said his favorite part of the festivities used to be walking the entire cruise route, back and forth. Now there’s such an influx of adults, children, automobiles and parties on the strip that it’s hard to accomplish.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel was grand marshal last year when it was revealed that cruise coordinators tried, but failed, to reel in rap superstar Eminem. This year, Cannon admitted that Eminem was again on the radar but pulled out of the running at the last minute.

Clinton Township Police Chief Fred Posavetz will be the grand marshal. Cannon described him as a “great, loyal employee to the township.”

Cruise vice chair and headquarters organizer Tom Tignanelli helped start the event 16 years ago. The first year featured six or eight tents, but now he said there are at least 50 that line the avenue. He said the cruise “would be impossible” without the sponsors.

Now large sponsors support the event with their coffers. This year’s major sponsors include Dorian Ford, Moran Chevrolet, Jim Causley Buick GMC and the Police Officers Association of America.

The Dorian Ford Midway has been a cruise staple. This year it will be located in the AMC Star Gratiot 21 parking lot. The midway is home to the Kidz Zone, community service groups and vendors, food vendors, and live entertainment.

“I’m a car guy,” Tignanelli said. “I do think it’s cool. … Everyone who has a $10 or million-dollar car wants to park on Gratiot.

“Car guys are real cool people,” Tignanelli said. “They don’t take anything; they just want to ride in the parade. They’re just regular people.”

Paul Silvestri, secretary and director of cruise communications, said that when he joined the committee six years ago, numbers averaged roughly 190,000 people. He expects this year’s crowd to tally 225,000 folks when all is said and done.

“I think it’s a few different things,” Silvestri said. “The level of activities we have — we’re pretty family-friendly and family-oriented. There are activities for the kids and all ages. Many of the sponsors are township businesses and in turn have parties and events on cruise day that brings in people.”

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