Steve Staelens, of Roseville, shows off the ground effects on his 1977 Chevrolet Corvette during the 2018 Shorewood Kiwanis Harper Charity Cruise.  This year’s cruise is set for Aug. 28.

Steve Staelens, of Roseville, shows off the ground effects on his 1977 Chevrolet Corvette during the 2018 Shorewood Kiwanis Harper Charity Cruise. This year’s cruise is set for Aug. 28.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Harper Charity Cruise returns Aug. 28

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published August 20, 2019

ST. CLAIR SHORES — Food, friends and classic cars will take over Harper Avenue the evening of Aug. 28, when the Shorewood Kiwanis Harper Charity Cruise rolls into town from 5 to 9 p.m.

About 40,000 people come to Harper Avenue from Old Eight Mile Road to Bayside Street in St. Clair Shores on the last Wednesday in August each year for the cruise, hosted by Shorewood Kiwanis and made possible by various sponsors.

“It’s a special, family-oriented, classic car cruise,” said Shorewood Kiwanis Cruise Committee Chair Rosanne Minne. “It’s the last family fling.”

With dozens of open parties and other businesses hosting events for customers up and down the avenue, the cruise turns into a reunion for those who live or have lived in St. Clair Shores.

Corporate sponsor Roy O’Brien Ford is hosting a “beach bash” on the corner of Nine Mile Road and Harper Avenue, in the parking lot of the former Kmart store. With DJ Rockin Ronnie and three food vendors, including Steve’s Grilled Cheese and Grillwich Tot Shop, the area will also host Vintage Motor Club of America.

Blair Gilbert has hosted a party for cruisegoers at Gilbert’s Pro Hardware, 21912 Harper Ave., as long as there’s been a cruise.

“I was in on the first cruise,” he said.

Although he said he has “the smallest party,” it still attracts about 100 people who come to check out the classic cars parked by regular shoppers of his store.

“We have soft drinks; we have a little barbecue going; we do hot dogs and hamburgers for a couple bucks,” he said. “We take donations for them and use that as part of our check that I send each year to” Shorewood Kiwanis.

He said the crowd has a lot of fun each year enjoying the sights and sounds of the cruise.

“It’s great fun. All the old cars that, when the weather’s nice, I see we have as good a turnout of vehicles as Gratiot and any other cruise,” Gilbert said. “Some people might like it better because it’s more homegrown.”

Along the cruise route, Shorewood Kiwanis will have six locations where it will be selling cruise T-shirts and taking donations. Local charity partners will be selling T-shirts at five other locations along the route, as well as collecting donations for their causes.

“It is our largest fundraiser, which allows us to support all of our other service projects that we do throughout the year,” Minne said.

This year, those projects have included the donation of a $16,000 Lucas 3 chest compression device to the St. Clair Shores Fire Department, giving out scholarships to St. Clair Shores high school students, giving every third grader in the city a dictionary and hosting Christmas in August, when underprivileged children in the city can shop for back-to-school clothes.

Each charity partner gets to keep a portion of the proceeds from the T-shirts they sell, as well as all the cash donations they collect in their “jugs” during the cruise.

At Guastello’s Village Market, 28510 Harper Ave., they will be serving free food and drinks during the cruise.

Jerry Monte, the general manager, said that the store’s party is open to everyone as a thank-you for his customers’ loyalty over the year.

“It’s just good for the neighborhood. Good to meet your customers again one on one, nice to treat them,” he said. “I think it’s good for the community.”

Other locations will have bands, inflatable bouncers for children, food and plenty of classic cars.

“Come and enjoy a relaxing, end-of-summer event,” Minne said.

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