Car fans swoon as annual Woodward Dream Cruise returns

By: Elizabeth Scussel, Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published August 17, 2015

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BIRMINGHAM/BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — The 21st year of the Woodward Dream Cruise brought steamy summer temps, sunshine, throngs of families and tons of classic cars down to ol’ M-1.

The annual Birmingham Cruise event boasted around 300 classic cars from around the country, lined up along Old Woodward Avenue near the triangle area.

John Heiney, executive director of the Birmingham Principal Shopping District, which organizes the cruise event, said he was out on the town all day Aug. 15 and noticed plenty of foot traffic.

“We had a lot of positive comments from folks visiting for the car show,” he said. “Car show participants were also really pleased with how the day went. It brought a lot of people into downtown Birmingham for the day, so that’s always good.”

The bustling downtown district was just as busy as it would be on any other summer Saturday, Heiney said, despite the gridlock traffic near the area’s main intersection at Woodward and Maple Road. He noted that some retailers do fear that traffic will slow business on cruise days, but most report that sales remain steady.

“I think the folks that are open that day will tell you that they’re pleasantly surprised (with business). It’s not their best sales day, but it’s a good, solid sales day,” Heiney said. “I can tell you the restaurants with outdoor dining platforms were quite busy in the afternoon and into the evening.”

In between shopping, dining and car watching, visitors enjoyed festivities and displays from Chevrolet, 104.3 WOMC and the University of Michigan Engineering School.

Things were hopping farther north on Woodward Avenue at Bloomfield Township’s annual classic car show at Mercedes-Benz of Bloomfield Hills. In the adjacent lot at Comerica Bank, the Bill Wells Car Club Classic was held.

“We had a lot of people coming through. It was beautifully sunny — hot, but sunny — so that helped. We had grandstands set up. It was really a great place for viewing the cars as they came by,” said Greg Kowalski, director of community relations for Bloomfield Township and an organizer of the event.

“For us, it was a good day, tremendous amount of work, but the (Department of Public Works) did our setup like it was a military operation. They had everything in place in record time.”

Kowalski said the day went off without a glitch, thanks to beautiful weather and a good force of volunteers.

This year’s display included a showcase of classic cars, a collection of DeLoreans provided by the DeLorean Midwest Connection Club, an array of Dream Cruise merchandise, and food vendors.

“We had a really good turnout for the DeLoreans. We had about 10 of them. That’s always interesting and it’s something different,” he said.

With numbers still being added up at press time, Kowalski couldn’t yet give an estimate of how much money the show raised, but all proceeds from the event will be split between the Bloomfield Hills Optimist Club, the Bloomfield Township Fire Department charities and the Bloomfield Township Police Department Benevolent Fund.

However, due to a lagging number of car show participants, Kowalski said the crew will evaluate and possibly restructure their event, and possibly overhaul the layout to fully tap into the Dream Cruise’s potential for next year.

Meanwhile, bona fide gearhead and Birmingham City Commissioner Gordon Rinschler celebrated more than 20 happy years of memories during the cruise when he renewed his wedding vows to wife and Birmingham Board of Education member Geri Rinschler. The two drove up in the same 1930 Ford Model A that they rode in to their wedding 47 years ago. The ceremony was hosted by Traverse City-based Hagerty, a provider of insurance for classic cars.

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