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August 12, 2013

Downtown Birmingham becomes center of cruise action

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

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Once again, hundreds of classic cars will line Old Woodward Avenue for Birmingham’s annual Cruise Event Aug. 17.

BIRMINGHAM — For 19 years, show-stopping cars have lined M-1 for the annual Woodward Dream Cruise. And this year, the spotlight of this celebrated Detroit tradition will shift to downtown Birmingham.

On Aug. 17, the city will once again host its annual cruise event 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Nearly 300 classic cars will be on display along South Old Woodward between Merrill and Lincoln Street for motor heads to enjoy, just steps away from the cruise action happening on Woodward’s main stretch. The first Birmingham cruise event took place back in 1995.

Returning to this year’s event is Chevrolet, with a variety of displays for guests to see, including a full lineup of cars and trucks, not to mention the 2014 Corvette Stingray and Camaro.

Chevy’s Then and Now exhibit will be back with vehicles from the automaker’s past and present, demonstrating the changes over the years. From a 1955 Bel Air to the 2014 Impala, guests will get up-close and personal with Chevrolet’s finest. Visitors can also check out the company’s military display, paying tribute to the United States Armed Forces.

“Chevrolet is once again stationed in the heart of the Woodward Dream Cruise in Birmingham,” said Chris Perry, U.S. vice president of Chevrolet Marketing, in an email. “We hope many of the visitors will stop by to help us celebrate the best in Chevrolet design, technology and performance of the past and present.”

Also heading to Birmingham this Saturday is 104.3 WOMC radio, which will broadcast from the Chevrolet display, as well as WXYZ Channel 7, the official broadcast partner of the Woodward Dream cruise. The television station, which has traditionally covered the cruise from Royal Oak, is moving to the “top of the triangle,” near the 555 Building at Old Woodward and Haynes Street.

Birmingham City Manager Robert Bruner said he thinks Channel 7, along with thousands of other cruisers, will enjoy their stay in Birmingham this Saturday.

“I think one of the advantages downtown Birmingham has to offer is that you can come in off Maple, park in one of the five parking decks, walk around and have a good time, then get in your car and go home,” he said, adding that “13 (Mile) and Woodward is a little harder to get in and out of, unless you really want to commit to being there all day. Our location is just a little more user-friendly.”

Friendly and festive will definitely be the atmosphere on cruise day, according to the Birmingham Principal Shopping District, which boasts the downtown area’s wide variety of restaurants, shopping and entertainment choices to keep visitors busy when they need a break from the motor mayhem.

The 2013 event will be the city’s second cruise back on board with Woodward Dream Cruise Inc., the nonprofit that oversees cruise preparations. In the midst of harder economic times and considerable road improvements, Birmingham had pulled out of the organization in 2009. Bruner said that by rejoining last year, the city opened itself up for the opportunity they’re seeing this weekend to become the center of cruise festivities. Cruise organizers are equally as excited.

“This is a regional event. It’s important that every member on Woodward is participating,” said Woodward Dream Cruise Inc. President Greg Rassel. “Birmingham not being part of the cruise is kind of like Iowa pulling out of the United States. It’s not very conducive for government. It’s a regional event; everybody should buy into it.”

To learn more about the Birmingham Cruise Event, including how you can include your own classic car in the showcase, visit www.BirminghamCruiseEvent.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.