This year’s honored guests are known as community do-gooders
Members of the Rock 4 Tots committee include from left Howie Hurula, Jimmy Klapp, Margie Anders, Screamin’ Scott Randall, “Loco” Joe Evangelista, and Joe Magolan. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
PUBLISHED: July 24, 2023 at 11:32 a.m. | UPDATED: July 24, 2023 at 11:32 a.m.
When it came time for the Clinton Township Gratiot Cruise organizers to name a grand marshal for this year’s event, they didn’t have to think too long.
The committee of community-minded individuals decided to honor another group of do-gooders in the Rock-4-Tots organizers for the Aug. 6 cruise along Gratiot Avenue, from 14 Mile Road to Wellington Crescent.
The Rock-4-Tots group collects new unwrapped toys, gift cards, and accepts cash donations. The group is made up of Howie Hurula, Jimmy Klapp, Margie Anders, “Loco” Joe Evangelista, Joe Magolan and “Screamin'” Scott Randall of WRIF-FM (101.1)
“We selected the Rock-4-Tots organizers as this year’s grand marshals as a thank you for their 15 years of community service to the Clinton Township Goodfellows,” said Gratiot Cruise spokesman Paul Silvestri. “And we thought it would be nice that they celebrated 15 years last year and we’re celebrating 20 years, it was a good tie-in.”
A grand marshal is a person selected at an automobile race by the track owner or race sponsor to be the public leader of events on race day or throughout the race weekend.
In the case of the Gratiot Cruise, the grand marshal serves as the celebrity of the day for the event. Their biggest duty is to participate in the ceremonial lap of the cruise route following opening comments by the master of ceremonies Jim Tignanelli and Clinton Township Supervisor Robert Cannon, and performance of the National Anthem by Rose Bednar.
According to their website, Rock-4-Tots was started by Margie Anders based on her childhood experience with the Goodfellows bringing Christmas gifts to their door.
Growing up, her grandmother and mother always crocheted dresses for the dolls that Santa provided to other children in need through the Goodfellows.
Years later, she worked with Jimmy Klapp, who was the owner of The Dawghouse bar on Groesbeck Highway. He wanted to host a toy drive to collect toys for the Goodfellows. The two of them reached out to Screamin’ Scott and together, the first Rock-4-Tots event was put together in two weeks time.
The inaugural event was such a hit, others jumped on board including Loco Joe, who was a performer at the event. From there, the group formalized into a committee and joined forces with Bob Turner, who was the Clinton Township Goodfellows president at that time. Turner was in charge of making sure the proceeds would benefit the children of Clinton Township.
The committee members and volunteers first worked out of a warehouse to package the toys. Over the years, the event has moved around based on Jimmy’s ownership of the bars, but eventually landed at Freddy’s, which so far has been a great fit.
At the event, there are 50/50 raffles, and an array of raffle items to choose from including a R4T exclusive rock box filled with swag from the R4T performers. Local musicians generously volunteer with 20-minute sets throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
In 2022, the group raised $26,000 in donations to benefit the Clinton Township Goodfellows.
This year’s Rock-4-Tots event is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2-3 at Freddy’s Bar on Garfield Road in Clinton Township.
This week’s Gratiot Cruise weekly car show partners with Music & Movie in the Park Night on Wednesday at the Clinton Township Civic Center, 40700 Romeo Plank Road (at Canal Road).
For more information, visit ctgratiotcruise.com.