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Berkley CruiseFest lets spectators get up close with classic cars

August 4, 2014

» click to enlarge «
Mark Widrig looks out his car window during the Berkley CruiseFest last year along 12 Mile Road. The 20th annual CruiseFest kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 15.

BERKLEY — The Woodward Dream Cruise gives spectators a chance to see classic and new cars alike traveling up and down the corridor while mixed in with traffic.

The Berkley CruiseFest, however, gives those camped alongside 12 Mile Road an up close and personal look at nearly 400 classic cars with the road closed down and a parade-style drive-by for a better view.

The 20th annual CruiseFest will kick off at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 15. The parade will run from Roseland Cemetery, at the corner of 12 Mile and Woodward Avenue, to Greenfield Road. After the parade, the thousands in attendance will have a chance to enjoy music, games and food for the remainder of the night.

“The car parade in and of itself is going nice and slow down 12 Mile, so you can get closer to the action,” Berkley Parks and Recreation Director Tom Colwell said. “The cars on Woodward may be three lanes over and driving faster, so this is really more of an intimate relationship and feel with the cars because you are closer in a parade format and get a better look at the cars.”

After the parade at 7:30 p.m., the Magic Bus will perform live music on stage at the corner of 12 Mile and Robina Avenue. There also will be a children’s area with inflatables and a dancing area for teenagers.

“All the shops have specials going on, and there are booths and food and just much more than just the car parade itself,” Colwell said. “It really is an intimate-type atmosphere around town with 12 Mile closed down, and it is a good time to meet new people and hang out with neighbors.”

Mark Coon, CruiseFest chairman, has been involved with the event since its inception and chairman for the last 16 years. Coon said thousands of people feel a connection with the automobile industry, making the annual car events one of the best times of the year.

“People are fascinated by automobiles more than anything, because in this area it is kind of a big deal with the amount of festivals and fairs and car shows that go on around here in the summer,” he said. “We don’t have the opportunity to have good weather most of the year, so most of the time is not good for bringing out old cars. In our area and climate, people get three months and they really want to get their cars out.”

With the CruiseFest parade focusing mainly on older cars, Coon said even those who don’t have classic cars can relate to them. As for the young spectators, he said they could get a glimpse into the past through the parade.

“In my opinion, the older crowd is finally able to afford these classic cars, because it is not a cheap hobby, and you get younger people who get regular old cars and try to do something unique,” Coon said. “As with spectators, the younger kids are fascinated probably because they had a parent or grandparent who were into these cars, and the older crowd, they are reliving memories. I know I lived in Berkley and spent a lot of time on Woodward in a couple of cars cruising up and down and racing.”

The CruiseFest is a big event for local residents, Colwell said, but the event also draws people from all over for the cars and the events afterward. As the event prepares to celebrate 20 years, Colwell said it just keeps getting better.

“It seems to be getting bigger every year, and I think car enthusiasts think it is fun and want to come out and check it out,” he said. “People come out because there is nostalgia and these cars bring some people back to another time in their life. People get to hang out with friends and eat cotton candy and do it all for free.”

About the author

Josh Gordon covers Berkley, Ferndale, Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge along with the Berkely Schools and Ferndale Schools districts for the Woodward Talk. Josh has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2013 and attended Central Michigan University. Josh won a Society of Professional Journalism award in 2015 and is an avid fan of the Green Bay Packers. During his free time, Josh likes to read, try new foods and snowboard.

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