Roseville’s Gratiot Cruise will start off the cruise calendar

After being left in Eastpointe’s dust last summer, organizers of the 2016 Roseville Gratiot Cruise have set their event to be held one week before Eastpointe’s cruise.

And they hope to include a major attraction to Gratiot this year — NASCAR drivers and events — as a way to kick off Rosefest, the city’s three-day weekend festival.

“Eastpointe prefers to have their cruise on their own, so we decided to honor that by going one weekend over to June 11 this year,” said Greg Evennou, vice president of the Roseville Heritage Foundation, which hosts the cruise.

“Our biggest change is the addition of NASCAR racers and sponsors to make a an appearance, which will help bolster our sponsorship dollars. We’re hoping everyone will come out to start a new tradition with us,” Evennou said.

Roseville officials surprised the cruise community in the winter of 2015 by announcing they had re-scheduled their Gratiot Cruise to the same day as the Cruisin’ Gratiot event in neighboring Eastpointe.

Eastpointe officials cried foul over the move as Cruisin’ Gratiot has historically been held in June, while the Roseville event took its place on the calendar in July for the past three years.

This year, Rosefest will be held June 16-18 with three days of festivities capped by a fireworks display, all at Veterans Memorial Park.

On Sunday, June 19, a car show and awards will be presented at Dooleys on Gratiot in Roseville.

But the festivities will begin June 11 with a Gratiot Cruise in Roseville, followed by Eastpointe’s cruise the following Saturday on June 18.

Eastpointe’s Cruisin’ Gratiot — now in its 18th year — will again offer trolleys and live entertainment, according to Harvey Curley, the city’s former mayor and longtime cruise chairman.

“I am not involved in Roseville’s cruise, so I wish them good luck,” said Curley. “They are having theirs a week before ours, and I see no problem with that. We have a dedicated lane bleachers on the medians to give you a closer look at the cars — this is what makes our event so successful.”

Cruisin’ Gratiot is an annual, week-long celebration of automotive history, tradition and memorabilia in Eastpointe, one of the area’s best-known classic car celebrations. It culminates with a two-mile cruise along Gratiot between Eight Mile and 10 Mile roads that draws about 750 participants and 150,000 spectators

The cruise has become a major economical stimulus at the start of the summer, according to Eastpointe Mayor Suzanne Pixley. She said Eastpointe traditionally has kicked off the classic car cruise season.

“We’re going to let them do it their own way, but the bottom line is, it takes a lot of money to host a cruise,” Pixley said.

In Eastpointe, the cruise only runs two miles, from Eight Mile Road to 10 Mile Road, while Roseville’s runs a four miles. And that includes breaks at Interstates 696 and 94. Eastpointe officials said that break in the action interrupts the cruise’s momentum, according to Eastpointe officials.

Cruisin’ Gratiot is the only cruise in the state to have a cruising lane designated by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Cruisers have to pay for a special pass to use that lane, while the Roseville cruise is an open one.