Woodward Dream Cruise weekend takes over Ferndale
As Paul Declerck walked through Mustang Alley along East Nine Mile Road in Ferndale Aug. 17, he was checking out each and every Ford Mustang to see which one was to his liking.
Declerck traveled from Chicago to join his brother, Dave, for the 19th annual Woodward Dream Cruise. Not a native of the area, Declerck said he was enjoying comparing what he wants to what car enthusiasts have.
“I came up here to see my brother and see the show because I’m looking to buy another vehicle,” Declerck said. “This show is all about building cars and owning cars.”
The annual Dream Cruise brings in more than a million spectators along the corridor going from Ferndale through Berkley, Royal Oak and Birmingham. Classic and modern classics alike drive along Woodward while people camp out along the medians and sidewalks to catch a glance.
In Ferndale, the normal Dream Cruise is amplified with several events along Nine Mile Road Aug 16-18. Along with the 15th annual Mustang Alley, the third annual Gumball Rally and live music kept people entertained.
Bryce Harrison was in metro Detroit for work purposes after traveling from Louisiana and took the time to camp out at the corner of Woodward and Nine Mile. Harrison said he had never heard of the event, but it was something spectacular.
“Everybody at work was talking about it, and I didn’t know it was going on until I got up here, but they said I had to go,” Harrison said. “The people that live here, apparently, don’t go, but they said I had to. I wanted to come out and see the cars.”
While taking in the show, Harrison said he could see why the event was so popular and has continued for almost two decades.
“I am not really into classic cars, like wanting to restore one, but I like to look at them,” Harrison said. “This is the Motor City and people come here for the cars, anyway. Plus, I think it is good for the economy to have events like this in the Detroit area. It’s just a good, fun event.”
Don Frazier, of Ypsilanti, camped out next to his car, a 1965 Ford Mustang 2+2, in Mustang Alley. Frazier agreed with Harrison that Detroit being the Motor City helps make the Dream Cruise successful year after year.
But for him, being able to see the cars he grew up with, like his Mustang, is another incentive to make his way out to Woodward.
“When I was a young teenager, my friends had this (Mustang 2+2) and I had a Cougar, and that was what I was looking for, but I saw this and it was a pretty solid car and I always liked the body style,” Frazier said. “My friend likes to say that the older cars are popular with our generation, the gray beards, so it is like we are reliving our youth years during the Dream Cruise.”
Over the 14 years he has had his car, Frazier said he has stripped it down from the white paint to the natural champagne beige color it is now. Frazier said he modifies the car some every year, but he hopes to keep it as original as possible.
Going to car shows, as Frazier does two or three times a week during the summer, allows car enthusiasts to talk about what they are passionate about, he said.
“I try to do a lot of shows each year, but particularly the Woodward Dream Cruise because there are a lot of car people and I like to see all the other cars and what people have done with them,” Frazier said. “A lot of times people you would not talk to under normal circumstances, they will see your car and exchange stories about what cars they grew up with.”
Frank Diclementi, of St. Clair Shores, had something a little different to offer visitors. His 1967 Shelby GT is the exact model that was in the movie “Gone in 60 Seconds,” Diclementi said, so he calls his car Eleanor just like the movie.
“I got this car 16 years ago after the third owner traded it in, and this is the car that made all these other Mustang cars possible,” Diclementi said. “I have worked on the transmission, brakes, engine, just everything. It had so much blowback when I got it, every 50 miles I had to put new spark plugs in it.”
Having been to the Dream Cruise for several years, Diclementi said he loves seeing people from all over the state gather in one area for a common interest. For him, it brings back memories of his first vehicle.
“My first car was a Volkswagen Beetle that I got for $500, so I started collecting those when I started looking at classic cars,” he said. “I think people want to come out and see older cars, and even the new stuff, and they may remember their first car and get inspired to restore cars.”