By TEREASA NIMS and JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
Sally Jessup is counting the days until the 15th annual Cruisin’ Downriver when she and her boyfriend show off their candy apple red 1967 Fastback Mustang in front of an estimated 300,000 people expected to line Fort Street.
This year the Fort Street tour begins at 10 a.m. Saturday and stretches from just north of Sibley Road in Riverview to Warwick, just north of Southfield in Lincoln Park.
“This isn’t all about cars,” Jessup said. “It’s a great day for families to just get together. No video games, TV or other distractions. Just being a family.”
Allen Turner, of Wyandotte doesn’t have a car to enter but he is ready to find a seat and watch the cars.
“I don’t think anyone wants to watch me drive my beat-up truck down Fort Street,” Turner said. “But, I’m definitely going to be there to watch.”
Turner has been going to the cruise for years.
“It’s fun to see the different cars,” Turner said. “Some of the cars bring back the days of youth.”
Motorists and spectators will have plenty of opportunities to celebrate the spirit of Cruisin’ Downriver when the annual classic car blowout cruises through Lincoln Park and Southgate.
The city’s Downtown Development Authority is bringing in a range of live music, beginning on Friday, before the big day itself. From 6 to 9:30 p.m a variety of acts will be on sidewalk stages, including the Willie Nelson Tribute band in front of Park Restaurant, 1681 Fort St., rock-blues guitarist Lemon James at Fort Brewery, 1660 Fort St., and a salute to Johnny Cash will be featured at Advance Auto Parts, 2230 Fort St.
On Cruisin’ Saturday, music begins at 11 a.m. and will run through 9:30 p.m. Park Restaurant will host an Elvis Presley tribute act from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., followed by Lemon James at 3 p.m. and Johnny Cash salute at 5 p.m.
At Fort Brewery catch the Bdi Band for some Chicago blues from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., followed by Alice Cooper tribute Nightmare at 3 p.m., and Elvis Presley tribute at 6 p.m. Advance Auto Parts will rock out with Benny and the Jets from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., cover band SoundProof at 3 p.m. and Willie Nelson Tribute hits the stage at 6 p.m.
Step under the outdoor tent on Saturday at McCaffery’s Bar, 4210 Fort Street, for classic rockers Top Shelf Tuna beginning at 5:30 p.m. McCaffery’s will also host a pig roast and dunk tank on cruisin’ day, with proceeds benefitting the Junior Rails athletic league.
Non-musical activities in the city include a pasta-salad competition at Blessed Hope Christian Church, 1706 Fort St. The church will host an ice cream social from 2 to 4 p.m., during which time salad wizards can bring their best pasta creations to be judged beginning at 4:15 p.m., and entries will be served during a community meal at 4:45 p.m.
For those with darker appetites, the Nightmare Cruisers Hearse Club will host an Open Casket Bar and Grill in the parking lot of Solosy Funeral Home, 3206 Fort St., open during the entire cruise event. From a modified 1983 Cadillac Superior hearse, a custom-made coffin provides a grill and cooler from which to serve snacks and drinks.
Tents will be set up at several of the city’s Fort Street businesses during the cruise offering sound, giveaways and opportunities to benefit local causes.
At Co-Op Services Credit Union, 16225 Fort St., the Downriver Wanderers Classic Car Club will display custom wheels, and visitors can win raffle prizes throughout the event.
The parking lot of Kmart, 16705 Fort St., will host a live broadcast by classic rock station WCSX-FM, and the Kmart deli will serve up hot dogs, chips and soft drinks.
The sounds of classic rock will also be heard from Motor Vehicle Solutions, 16600 Fort St., which will host WOMC-FM, live bands and several raffle contests.
Local activist group Stop Underage Drinking/Drugs Downriver Coalition will welcome cruisers and spectators in the parking lot of Southgate Ford, 16501 Fort St. The organization will offer a series of prizes during raffles throughout the day.
For more information go to www.cruisindownriver.com.