Pink Cadillacs line 7 Mile for Franklin funeral

Pink Cadillacs line up along Seven Mile for a procession to the church.

Owners of pink Cadillacs showed a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the Queen of Soul by lining their vehicles along Seven Mile near Greater Grace Temple in Detroit before the Aug. 31 funeral service.

More than 100 pink Caddies filed in outside the church at 8:30 a.m., led by the church’s first lady Crisette Ellis.

A pink Cadillac passenger takes a selfie.

Ellis said it was her husband and the church’s pastor, Bishop Charles H. Ellis III, who sparked the idea to have the rosy vehicles at Aretha Franklin’s service. Their church has hosted many high-profile funerals, including those of fallen police officers. Police officers and mounted forces from various law enforcement agencies typically line their vehicles along Seven Mile in front of and near the church.

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Those directing their Caddies to Greater Grace Temple included Valerie Peterson-Kelly, along with a bevy of other Mary Kay saleswomen in their pink Cadillacs who lined up along Seven Mile before Franklin's service.  

“I’m just here to pay tribute to the queen,” said Peterson-Kelly, who flew in from Houston for the event.

Pink Cadillac drivers wave during the procession.

Others flocked to Detroit in their coral-colored Cadillacs from as far away as Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and Iowa, most with 'Mary Kay' emblazoned on the sides of the SUVs and sedans.

“Everybody knows about her 'Freeway of Love' song,” Peterson-Kelly said. The pink Cadillacs, she added, were a “symbol of success.”

Susie Kopacz, 64, of Hampshire, Illinois, said it was important for her to be here along with her pink Cadillac SUV. She was touched and moved, she said, by Franklin’s service to this country.

“It’s an honor. She was a woman of legacy who did so much for African-American women and women in general,” Kopacz said.

"When I learned she marched with Martin Luther King," she added, starting to cry, "Oh my gosh, she’s done so much. If I could honor her a little bit and in some way show her respect, that’s why we’re here.”

Franklin’s 1985 song “Freeway of Love” — which featured record producer Randy Jackson (of “American Idol” fame) on synth bass and the late Clarence Clemons from the E Street Band on saxophone — hit No. 1 on the Dance Club and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts and No. 3 on the Hot 100. 

The parade of pink Cadillacs arrive as people wait in line for a coveted spot inside Greater Grace.

Franklin’s fun and funky video for “Freeway of Love” is an homage to Detroit, filled with shots of the city’s skyline, the Uniroyal Tire, the Motown Museum, local interstate signs and car factory images. The black-and-white video ends by turning to color as Franklin, wearing white fur and winking at the camera, drives off in the passenger seat of a pink classic Cadillac convertible with a blue Michigan license plate reading “RESPECT.” 

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