The North Gratiot Cruise is making a comeback this summer and organizers are hoping it will be better than ever.
"This is really our first year regrouping," North Gratiot Cruise Chairman John Vecchio said Monday. "I think this is going to be the biggest cruise that we had in Chesterfield."
The cruise due to a lack of sponsorships and organizational manpower. This year, the event is getting into gear with a new planning committee of local community leaders, business owners and residents along with help from Macomb Business Alliance President John Johnson.
A parade of classic cars is expected to leave the plaza Aug. 26, kicking off the cruise noon to 6 p.m. from Hall to 23 Mile on Gratiot.
Raising money for cruise, cause
The cruise foundation has secured a $5,000 sponsorship from Joe Ballor's Towing Inc. in New Haven. The towing company will serve as host of the headquarters site in what's known as the parking lot on Gratiot near 23 Mile. Other sponsorships include The Macomb Daily and classic rock station 94.7 WCSX, said Vecchio, owner of , also on Gratiot.
Organizers aim to get about 20,000 attendees and roughly $30,000 in proceeds. Seventy-five percent of the money raised by the cruise nonprofit will be donated to to support the K-9 unit and 25 percent will go to the Macomb County Sheriffs Office K-9 unit, Vecchio said.
"Our mission is really to keep the K-9 unit alive in Chesterfield," he said.
But that won't be cheap, organizers and Chesterfield police say.
It would take about $50,000 to buy a new dog, train the animal and get a new K-9 vehicle. After that, about $15,000 would be needed annually to maintain the unit, according to Vecchio and township police.
Event organizers acknowledge it would take multiple cruises to raise enough money to support and sustain the township K-9 unit.
However, Chesterfield Police Chief Bruce Smith said the when it retires in the near future. Smith is involved in the cruise planning process to help ensure public safety.
"Whatever they decide to do, I'm sure it's going to be fine with the community," he said. "But, the board was adamant they were not going to reinstate the K-9 unit.
"The main thing of this is to have a community event that is safe and successful."
Cruise encountered road blocks in past
The North Gratiot Cruise started in 2001; Vecchio became chairman in 2009 after former cruise organizers wanted someone else to take over. That year about $10,000 was raised for the county for Sheriff Office and Chesterfield Township K-9 units. In 2010 and 2011, the cruise was canceled due to limited time, financial resources and volunteers.
Pre-registration for this year's event is not required. Participants are to line up for the parade at 10 a.m. and will be asked to make donations to the cruise nonprofit.
For more information on the North Gratiot Cruise, to become a sponsor or to make a donation, call 586-876-4181 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.