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St. Clair Shores

Cruise fun for all, including local charities

August 18, 2014

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — The last car cruise of the season will rev into town from 5-9 p.m. Aug. 27, bringing classic cars, fun parties and visitors to the city.

The Harper Charity Cruise will stretch from Eight Mile Road north to Bayside Street, which is one block north of Martin Road, filling Harper Avenue with classic car cruisers, charity volunteers and pedestrians trying to take it all in.

This is the 20th year for the cruise, put on each year by the Shorewood Kiwanis and benefitting a number of local charities, the three largest of which are Care of Southeast Michigan, Wigs 4 Kids and the Tree of Hope Foundation. In addition, the Lions Club, three other Kiwanis Clubs, the St. Clair Shores Cultural Committee and Macomb Chamber Music Society will benefit from the cruise proceeds.

“We try to keep it really a community event,” said cruise Chairperson Tom Ulrich. “You’re not standing on the sidewalk or whatever looking at the cars going around the islands. They park right on the boulevard. You can walk up, talk to the driver, look in their car.

“It’s nice to get up there and talk to the guy that put several thousand (dollars) into the car.”

Taking in all the sights, Ulrich said it’s fun for fans to find and see the car they’ve always wanted parked or cruising in all its glory.

Because it is a charity cruise, there will also be volunteers milling up and down the avenue collecting donations or selling cruise-logo T-shirts for $10 each. This year’s logo — picked from a contest held for student graphic designers at Macomb Community College — is on black and white T-shirts, and for the first time ever, the volunteers will sport the second-place logo on their shirts, setting them apart from the crowd.

“This is a charity cruise and everything we take in goes right back into the community to those charities,” Ulrich said.

And the local charities appreciate the support.

“We are absolutely delighted to once again be a part of the cruise,” said Pamela Moffitt, president of the Tree of Hope Foundation of St. Clair Shores.

The group provides support, education and awareness of postpartum mood disorders, as well as free support groups for families struggling through that time. Moffitt said Kiwanis was one of the first supporters of the group when it was founded in 2005, so they have always appreciated the Kiwanis help.

The charities benefitting from the cruise gather their own groups of volunteers to work the route, thus helping Shorewood Kiwanis with the event, as well.

“It’s a fun night; it’s a great way to be out with the community, and it’s kind of a great partnership,” Moffitt said. “Kiwanis supports us, and we support them.”

Moffitt said they have a team of volunteers covering the east side of Harper Avenue from 10 Mile to 11 Mile roads.

“It’s a great night. We have volunteers of all ages,” she said. “We have parents who bring their children, all kinds of stuff, so we have everybody come out and help us. We just love it.”

At Wigs 4 Kids, of St. Clair Shores, which provides wigs and services at no charge to children and young adults experiencing hair loss, CEO Maggie Varney said they love helping with the cruise because it’s in the community.

“Our community has been so supportive of Wigs 4 Kids,” she said. “All those civic groups, they are totally dependent, as we are, on going out, pounding the pavement, raising money, and all they do is turn around and give it back to the community.”

Varney said the cruise is such a fun night for their volunteers.

“It’s just a good way for us to have an opportunity to give back,” she said. “It’s not just about what we get.

“We always seem to reach someone who needs to know about us, so that’s another benefit for it. It’s a win-win for all of us.”

Over the years, Ulrich said they’ve had as few as 60,000 and as many as 100,000 visitors come out, depending on the weather. And they’re looking forward to a great event in 2014, as well.

“Behave yourself and enjoy the cruise,” he said.

The 20th annual Harper Charity Cruise runs from 5-9 p.m. Aug. 27 on Harper Avenue.

About the author

Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske covers St. Clair Shores and the Lake Shore, Lakeview and South Lake public schools for the Sentinel. Kristyne has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2004 and attended Michigan State University and Chippewa Valley High School.

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