The parking lot at the Driftwood Inn in Grand Haven filled with antique cars and people who wanted to support local law enforcement. Each of the first 150 cars to arrive at the scene were awarded with goody bags and dash plaques before the cruise began.
Grand Haven native Chris Laarman said he used to play baseball with Flahive while attending Grand Haven schools.
“I graduated with Scott — we kind of grew up together,” Laarman said. “We come out every year in his memory. This event has grown each year and it’s a lot of fun.”
Related: See more photos from Wednesday night’s cruise at the Tribune photo gallery.
At 7 p.m., the Scott Flahive Memorial Cruise started, and lines of classic cars enjoyed a police-escorted cruise around the Grand Haven area.
Organizer Kurt Pravda said the cruise wouldn’t happen without the coordination of the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety and the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office.
“I told (Flahive’s) dad and stepmother I’d keep doing it,” Pravda said. “This is something I enjoy doing. There are a lot of newcomers this year.”
Pravda expected about 200 cars would show up for this year’s cruise, more than any other year.
Jim Bartkowiak of Muskegon said he didn’t know Flahive personally, but attended Wednesday’s cruise in his honor.
“This is the least we could do for someone who was killed in public service,” Bartkowiak said.
Flahive was a Grand Haven police officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty on Dec. 13, 1994. Two men, Keith Harbin and Freddie Lee DeWitt, escaped from the Ottawa County Jail on Franklin Avenue in Grand Haven. Flahive pulled over the getaway car on Beacon Boulevard and was shot by Harbin. The fallen officer was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Harbin had been facing a 20- to 40-year sentence for drug trafficking before he escaped from the county jail in 1994. He is now serving a life sentence in a state prison.
Along with the memorial cruise, the late Grand Haven police officer is also honored at the Fallen Officers Monument in front of the city’s public safety building, where officers honor him each year.
The Grand Haven department also honors Flahive’s life each year on the date of his death. A police car sits next to the monument on Beacon Boulevard with emergency lights flashing. The monument, which was unveiled in 1997, is still there today.
In addition, the Scott A. Flahive Memorial Boat Launch at East Grand River Park is dedicated “to his memory by the members of the Department of Public Safety and the Citizens of the City of Grand Haven.”
All proceeds from the memorial cruise go to the Scott Flahive Memorial Fund — a scholarship fund which benefits students who want to pursue degrees in criminal justice. In recent years, the cruise has raised up to $2,000.