Dream Cruise begins: ‘This is where it started’

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published August 15, 2014

 A classic La Salle police vehicle cruises onto Woodward Avenue Aug. 15 as part of the annual Lights & Sirens Cruise in Ferndale to start the 20th annual Woodward Dream Cruise.

A classic La Salle police vehicle cruises onto Woodward Avenue Aug. 15 as part of the annual Lights & Sirens Cruise in Ferndale to start the 20th annual Woodward Dream Cruise.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

FERNDALE — Ever since she was a kid, Cathy Redding has been going to the Woodward Dream Cruise in Ferndale. Back then, it was with her father, but for the past few years, it has been with her husband, Keith Redding.

And every year, Cathy and Keith come from Detroit and sit at the same spot at the corner of Woodward Avenue and Nine Mile Road hoping to catch a glimpse of Cathy’s dream car.

“I like to drool over the (Ford) Mustangs; nothing is sweeter than that,” she said. “We had one when I was a kid. It was a green ’66 Mustang with a hole in the floor, and my dad sold it to my aunt and we never saw it again. Ever since then, it has been my dream car.”

More than 60,000 people were expected to go through Ferndale for the 20th annual Woodward Dream Cruise weekend, and things kicked off with a bang Aug. 15 with the ceremonial ribbon-cutting and Lights & Sirens Cruise.

And while Ferndale had events going on, people like Cathy and Keith already were lined up along Woodward to catch a glimpse of the classic cars that were cruising down the famous corridor.

“I have been coming ever since I was a kid, basically, with my dad, because he was a car enthusiast,” Cathy said. “All my years, I have just been coming out here and checking it out, and we enjoy it and love just checking it out at this wonderful venue. You get to see all these classic cars surrounded by wonderful people, and it is very safe, fun and exciting.”

Mayor Dave Coulter talked about the past 20 years to kick things off Aug. 15 with a few guest speakers. One of them, Ralph Haney, was a co-coordinator for the first Dream Cruise and helped get the event started with Nelson House.

“They came to me in the fall of 1995 and asked me about doing a cruise, and we went to the city of Ferndale and they thought we were absolutely crazy when we asked about blocking off the street and using municipal parking lots and bringing all these people to town,” Haney said. “Now it has been 20 years, and it is absolutely fantastic and a great time. Thirteen (Mile Road) and Woodward is great, but this is where it happened. This is where it started.”

Another speaker was Dana DeCoster, who was around back when the Dream Cruise started in 1995 in Ferndale. DeCoster is the founder and publisher of Cruis’News Magazine, a monthly magazine about the automobile scene in metro Detroit.

DeCoster said when he started the magazine right around the time the Dream Cruise began in 1995, he had no idea both would be such hits.

“I started my magazine three months before the first Dream Cruise, and I had no clue it was going to happen, but I talked to Ralph and Nelson and they explained what they were trying to do, “ he said. “In August of that year I actually came out with two issues: one a special edition for the Woodward Dream Cruise and another August issue. We speed forward 20 years and here we are today, and it has been 20 great years.”

While the Lights & Sirens Cruise saw several old and new police and fire vehicles, and ambulances cruise down East Nine Mile and Woodward, spectators had a chance to see some of the older emergency vehicles before and after the cruise, and see how things have changed.

Damon Garascia, of Ferndale, took his wife, niece and nephew to the Dream Cruise Aug. 15 to see some of the old emergency vehicles and said he would be back out Aug. 16 for the classic Mustangs as part of Mustang Alley.

“Well, we come out every year to look at the Mustangs and the different happenings with the emergency vehicles,” Garascia said. “A lot of people are trying to relive the past, the cruising era of the ’60s and ’70s, and I think it is good for the region, the metro Detroit area, because it brings in visitors and pumps money into the local businesses, which is a good thing.”

Getting a chance to look at some of the older vehicles, Garascia said it is interesting to see how differently they were made 40 and 50 years ago.

“These are awesome — a lot of history with these older vehicles,” he said. “You don’t see them built like this anymore.”

Marcy Fisher, the Ford Mustang vehicle line director, helped Ford bring Mustang Alley back to the Dream Cruise Aug. 16 for the 16th year in a row. With Ford celebrating 50 years since the Mustang was introduced in 1964, the exhibit was even bigger than ever.

“This year, we had the most-ever registered vehicles with 1,200 Mustangs out there,” Fisher said. “It is an absolute honor for the Ford Motor Co., and we are excited to be here and celebrate 50 years of the Mustang, and excited to bring this to the public.”

Despite the influx of thousands of visitors to the Woodward corridor over the weekend, Ferndale police said it was a typical Dream Cruise weekend with no big incidents.

And for Keith Redding, even though he has been coming to the same spot on the corner of Nine Mile and Woodward for the past few years, seeing the classic cars never gets old, especially for someone who isn’t originally from the Motor City.

“I like coming out here because I’m from Florida originally, so we don’t have the muscle cars down in Miami cruising,” he said. “You see the old cars like they originally were, and that excites me. I come every year and sit down and watch them and dream I am going to get one.”