In a few days, Woodward Avenue will be flooded with classic cars.
For the 18th year, the annual Woodward Dream Cruise will bring more than a million people to the doorsteps of such local cities as Royal Oak, Ferndale, Berkley and more on Aug. 18.
For the most part, the recipe is expected to be the same with a few new touches here and there.
“The cruise has been riding along now for 17-18 years now. So many people come back,” Royal Oak Mayor Jim Ellison said. “The 5k run is the first new thing we’ve added (in Royal Oak). What you saw last year is pretty much what you’ll see this year.”
The new Cruise In Shoes 5k will give participants a chance to run through the heart of the Dream Cruise along Woodward from 13 Mile to Normandy early Aug. 18 before the festivities get too busy.
“We’re encouraging a lot of people to come out to the event and have some fun,” said Greg Rassel, Department of Public Works director in Royal Oak.
Rassel said they are accepting registration online beforehand and on site the morning of the race, but organizers are already halfway to their inaugural goal of 600 runners. The 7:30 a.m. run/walk starts and ends at Shrine High School, 3500 W. 13 Mile.
The new race is a welcome feature, but the real draw promises to be the sights seen on Woodward Avenue throughout the day.
“What makes our cruise different from others is anyone can cruise,” Ellison said. “You still have people riding up and down Woodward in a minivan. If your mom’s red station wagon is what you have, that’s what you cruise in. It’s about the cruising: getting out there and meeting people and sharing stories.”
Ready to roll
That cruising spirit also applies a little farther south on the route with Ferndale expecting plenty of excitement this year.
Ferndale’s Dream Cruise activities have expanded with the addition of a few new events. After organizers attempted to consolidate the city’s three-day cruise celebration east of Woodward Avenue a year ago, they have once again spread out the automotive amusements across both sides of Nine Mile Road.
On Aug. 18, the awards ceremony for the second annual Michigan Gumball Rally will take place along West Nine Mile, as well as a special guest appearance by racing legend Shirley Muldowney, the first female drag racer. In addition, the Cars in Art event will feature local artists painting automotive themes on the bodies of Ford Transit Connect cargo vans, while at the Restoration Academy, a team of metro Detroit students and retired automotive engineers, will build a classic car on location.
All the old standbys that made Ferndale the place “where the dream began” will continue this year, as well. Many of the attractions, including the “Built Ford Tough” Ford trucks display, Rock ‘n’ Live Entertainment stage, Kids Play Zone, food court and merchant vendors will kick off Aug. 16 on West Nine Mile. The next day will feature the city’s annual Emergency Vehicle Show, official Dream Cruise ribbon-cutting ceremony and Lights and Sirens Cruise. The fun will continue on Aug. 18 with Mustang Alley featuring hundreds of classic Ford Mustangs of every imaginable make and model along East Nine Mile, as well as the Classics & Cruis’n Legends Vehicle Show on Vester Street. To view a complete schedule of events, visit www.ferndaledreamcruise.com.
While the cruise route on Aug. 18 includes Berkley, the small city is really known for its big car party the night before the Dream Cruise.
All of the city’s official activities will take place on the evening of Aug. 17 for the annual CruiseFest celebration. Organizers often describe CruiseFest as the more low-key, family-friendly Friday alternative to the madness of the main cruise on Saturday.
The highlight of the event each year is the Classic Car Parade in the heart of downtown Berkley, which will feature hundreds of vintage vehicles making their way down 12 Mile Road starting at 6:30 p.m. After the parade, guests can enjoy a variety of entertainment options along 12 Mile with live music on the DTE Energy stage, the Tri-Community Coalition’s annual Street Dance and a neighborhood block party. In addition, all evening long there will be classic car viewing, children’s activities, games, prizes, movies, food and beverages, and sidewalk sales from local businesses. To view a complete schedule of events, visit www.facebook.com/berkleycruisefest.
A day that never disappoints
Drawing roughly 1.5 million people and 50,000 classic cars to the area each year, the cruise has become a well-oiled machine since it began in 1995, when it drew about 250,000 attendees that first year.
“We get all kinds of people in town,” Ellison said. “The Dream Cruise crowd is a well-controlled, self-policing crowd. It’s just a bunch of people getting together having a good time.”
Many businesses throughout cities and cruise route will offer paid parking, such as Royal Oak’s main $10 lot at 13 Mile and Coolidge, but there will also be free parking and a free shuttle from Upton Park to Memorial Park, said Rassel, who also offered driving advice.
“We encourage cruisers to stay to the outside lane and through traffic to stay to the inside lane,” Rassel said. “We’re hoping for a fun, family friendly event. Hopefully, the highlight to the weekend will be the good weather, opposed to last year.”
Although cruisers will likely be driving their classic vehicles throughout the weekend, the cruise will officially travel up and down Woodward from Detroit to Pontiac from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday. Rassel said portable bathrooms and concessions will be available throughout the cruise route for patrons watching from the sidewalks.
Cross streets will close at 10 p.m. Friday and 9 p.m. Saturday as cruisers clear the road for local traffic.
“At the end of the night, we shut down all the cross streets and divert them down the mile roads,” Ellison said. “We just try to keep them out of the neighborhoods, but they’re pretty good about that. Most have been here before.”
For more information, or to view a route map, visit www.woodwarddreamcruise.com.