Gratiot Cruise rolls back into town Aug. 4

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published July 26, 2019

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — The first Sunday in August has brought tens of thousands of people to Gratiot Avenue for more than 15 years. Today, the Gratiot Cruise is bigger than ever.

Festivities at this year’s cruise will start at 9 a.m. Aug. 4. The cruise route runs between 14 Mile Road and Wellington Crescent. The closing time is at around 6 p.m.

It is a free community event where expenses are completely covered by sponsors and not taxpayer dollars.

From an event that brought out 10,000-20,000 people more than a decade ago, to now bringing out estimates of 100,000 people annually, it is more family oriented than ever.

Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon said, “Every year it feels like it’s brand new.”

“What I especially like seeing is when people put their babies in a buggy and walk up and down Gratiot Avenue,” said Cannon, who is the chairperson for this year’s cruise.

Paul Silvestri, the cruise committee secretary, treasurer and communications director, said this year’s event has a couple of new aspects.

One new offering is a craft and vendor fair that will be located at the Dorian Ford Family Fun Zone at 15 Mile Road and Gratiot. The other is a “Touch-A-Truck” opportunity “that kids can sit in, and climb in, and look at, and overall have fun” inside, according to Silvestri.

This year’s grand marshal is Brig. Gen. John Slocum, who retired earlier this year as commander of the 127th Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. He came to the base in late 2014, making his mark on the community prior to announcing his leave in 2019 after 35 years serving his country.

Silvestri said the cruise committee really wanted to have a military connection with this year’s grand marshal, whether it was somebody currently serving or a veteran. He said Cannon recommended Slocum due to his local ties and recent retirement.

Cannon said Slocum “has done a fabulous job of representing the base, and he’s a bit of a celebrity.”

Registration for the classic car show will begin at around 8 a.m., with opening ceremonies commencing at around 11:10 a.m. The classic car parade will kick off at about noon, with Slocum leading the way from 14 Mile.

Silvestri said that what keeps the event successful is the mix between car enthusiasts and families, as well as the sponsors who participate year in and year out.

“I think it’s a strong combination of both,” Silvestri said. “We build the cruise as a family-friendly fun event, so we see a lot of kids, a lot of families down there. Parks and rec puts on a great area down there at the 15 Mile location. Their location gets larger every year.”

Cannon admitted that he’s not the biggest car aficionado, but interacting with those individuals who are provides an element of intrigue.

“It’s the cars that draw people in initially, but it’s the fun people have with their families, friends and car clubs that has grown this event into what it is,” he said.

For a complete cruise schedule and other information, visit ctgratiotcruise.com.

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