August 16, 2014 at 1:00 am

Champagne Cruise: Filling the tanks of the needy

Cars on display on Friday at Westborn Market north of 11 Mile during the the 12th annual Champagne Cruise fundraiser . (Henry Payne / The Detroit News)

Woodward’s dream cruisers have a need for speed. Metro Detroit’s poor have a need for food.

On Friday night at Westborn Market north of 11 Mile, the Dream Cruise satisfied both with the 12th annual Champagne Cruise fundraiser that has raised $1.5 million to feed the needy since 2002. Attendees paid $150 a head to samplt sumptuous food from some of the Metro area’s best restaurants (all donors to Forgotten Harvest which harvests restaurant leftovers so that hungry residents might eat), while getting front row seats to Woodward’s buffet of classic cars.

The event is the brainchild of Westborn Market President Mark Anusbigian, a Forgotten Harvest board member, who saw the strategic benefit of a charity cruise event over a decade ago.

“Forgotten Harvest is easily one of the area’s most generous charities. Twelve years ago I had an idea that I thought would help,” said Anusbigian, who has watched Forgotten Harvest grow from distributing 1.2 million pounds of food in 2002 to 48 million pounds today.

That volume, says Forgotten Harvest CEO Kirk Mayes, “has made us the biggest food rescue charity in the nation – and the most efficient.”

In turn, that success has attracted some of the area’s most prominent companies, including sponsors Detroit Media Partnership (publishers of The Detroit News), GM, Doner and DTE Energy.

“This is Forgotten Harvest’s second-largest fundraiser after our Comedy Night in the spring,” says chairman of the board Joyce Jenereux and president of Detroit Media Partnership. “It attracts a large, fun crowd in a casual environment with good food and silent auction items.”

Your humble scribe has contributed numerous cartoon auction items to both events over the years.

Both Mayes and Jenereaux jumped into the fun themselves, ogling the cars on display in front of Anusbigian’s open market. Mayes even jumped into The Detroit News’ stunning yellow Corvette C7 convertible for a quick lap around the neighborhood. Our apologies for any sore ear drums.

Inside the tent, patrons tapped their shoes to Charles and Gwen Scales’ Motown sounds while downing sparkling wine by M. Lawrence, craft brews from Atwater Brewing and delicious morsels cooked on site by bd's Mongolian Grill, Beans and Cornbread, Gayle's Chocolates, Local Kitchen and Bar, Vinsetta Garage and more. Yum.

“I remember the cruise when it started 20 years ago,” said Westborn neighbor, Harvest patron and motorhead John Wallbillich. “I love it because it brings together people for great events like the Champagne Cruise.”

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

'This is Forgotten Harvest's second-largest fundraiser after our Comedy ... (Henry Payne / The Detroit News)