Sixth annual Ed’s Open Header Cruise set for July 28

Published 12:03 pm Friday, July 22, 2022

DOWAGIAC — A parade of cars will descend upon downtown Dowagiac for a good cause next week.

Dowagiac’s fifth annual Ed’s Open Header “Cruise for a Cause” will take place at 5:30 p.m. Thursday to benefit the Cass County Cancer Service. 

Participants in the Open Header Cruise will meet at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Thomas J. Mosier Waterwell Drilling, 21867 M-60 East, Cassopolis. A police escort will leave from Cassopolis at 6:40 to lead the cruise into downtown Dowagiac, where participants can gather at the Dowagiac District Library Event Pavilion for a cook-out. The entry fee for motor vehicles looking to participate in the procession is $20. 

The open header cruise will also coincide with the Dowagiac Summer Concert Series, with the band Taste of Texas performing at 7:30 p.m. on the grounds of the building. The Dowagiac Fire Department will be grilling hot dogs and bratwurst for a donation.

Last year, an event-record 160 vehicles — up from 107 in 2019 — participated in the event, with more than $7,000 raised in total between the procession and a raffle facilitated by Honor Credit Union.

To date, more than $27,000 in total funds have been raised for CCCS via Ed’s Open Header. According to HCU Assistant Vice President Janie Reifenberg, CCCS was the perfect organization to partner with because 100 percent of the funds they receive from donors goes directly to the community.

“On behalf of Honor Credit Union and the amazing Dowagiac member center team, led by Linda Tyria and Norma Greenman does a phenomenal job of raising funds and awareness for Cass County Cancer services,” she said. “We love supporting our community and especially since all of the money raised for the cruise stays right here in Cass County.  (CCCS Director) Maxine Ownby does such a wonderful job of making sure the money goes where it is needed, we are very lucky to have her and the Cass County Cancer Service team working so hard for all of us. The funds we raise from community donations, Honor will match and present a check the evening of the cruise to Maxine.”

The annual event is named in honor of Ed Kazlauskas, who along with Rodhy helped organize the Dowagiac Car Show downtown for 16 years. When the duo passed the organizing to someone else, they discussed planning an open header cruise to raise money for a local charity. 

Before plans ever came together, Kazlauskas was diagnosed with cancer and passed away at the age of 60, on Feb. 13, 2016.

Rodhy has since kept their dream alive and plans the open header cruise in Kazlauskas’ honor. Reifenberg, Kazlauskas’ sister, appreciates what Rohdy and others have done to celebrate her brother’s legacy.

“I look forward to the Ed’s Open header cruise each and every year for many reasons, both personally and professionally,” she said. “This is the time of year the community rallies around all of the hard work and dedication Curt Rhody and others do to honor my brother Ed Kazlauskas. Eddie’s love for mopar cars and his dedication to the Dowagiac community and as a long-time business owner, for all of the years he dedicated to the Rod & Roll show for numerous years comes back around to pay him tribute.  Our eyes fill with tears, and our hearts burst with love when our family sees the endless number of cars in the cruise. I know Eddie will be looking down with love and gratitude in his heart, for this sixth cruise.”