While the official Woodward Dream Cruise events will not be held this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials still expect that drivers will hit the roadway this weekend. Seen here are classic cars at the 2018 event.

While the official Woodward Dream Cruise events will not be held this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials still expect that drivers will hit the roadway this weekend. Seen here are classic cars at the 2018 event.

File photo by Erin Sanchez

Cities prepare for cruisers despite Dream Cruise’s cancellation

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published August 11, 2020


FERNDALE/BERKLEY — Cities in the Woodward Avenue corridor usually spend this time of year getting ready for the annual Dream Cruise.

Earlier this summer, the event was canceled due to health concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. But while residents won’t find localized celebrations in cities such as Ferndale or Berkley the weekend of Aug. 15, that doesn’t mean people won’t be finding themselves on the road that weekend cruising down Woodward Avenue in their Mustangs.

That’s the expectation of local city officials, with Ferndale City Manager Joe Gacioch saying they recognize that everybody has the right to drive Woodward Avenue. They’re just asking residents and out-of-towners to refrain from gathering along the sidewalks and medians to take in the classic cars.

“What we did want to do is control the local contexts and support our public health initiatives to the best that we can,” he said. “That means, for the city, we don’t encourage people to gather en masse on the sidewalks or in the median right of way as spectators. We’re not encouraging that. We supported that through actions by canceling our local events.”

Berkley City Manager Matt Baumgarten said the city is following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order on public gatherings, and asks people to keep those rules in mind if they decide to get together.

“Ideally, we would like to see just cruisers,” he said. “I don’t think we’re ever gonna take away that (love of cars) from Detroiters. It’s in our blood, but our concern is and remains large swaths of people up and down the corridor, potentially becoming a source of an outbreak.”

Berkley also declined permit applications for people to hold their own events and gatherings, as Baumgarten said they wanted to practice “what we preach” when it comes to public safety.

“It would be pretty disingenuous of us to say, ‘Hey, listen to the governor, follow the executive order, but also we’re permitting this restaurant, this group, this location to have a big group of people together,’” he said.

Ferndale, known as the birthplace of the Woodward Dream Cruise in 1995, typically holds a three-day festival centered around the event each year, starting on the Thursday before and ending on Saturday with Mustang Alley on Nine Mile Road.

While classic cars always are parading down Woodward Avenue, Berkley throws its own Classic Car Parade the Friday before the Dream Cruise on 12 Mile Road.

From a staffing perspective, Gacioch said, Ferndale’s Police Department will be prepared to handle any additional vehicular traffic caused by cruisers.

“You won’t see us, as you traditionally would, working on traffic control, working on maneuvering street closures and road closures so people have a smooth onward and offward ramp with Woodward,” he said. “We will still have a point of presence to respond, if necessary, if vehicular traffic does show up.”

Berkley’s Public Safety Department, Baumgarten said, will be patrolling that weekend and they’ll be working with their partners in Ferndale, Huntington Woods, Pleasant Ridge and Birmingham to make sure there is a heavy presence along the corridor.

“The Dream Cruise really is defined by that one weekend,” he said. “As soon as it’s nice outside, there’s gonna be people busting out the classic cars and taking them for a drive. We have a heavy presence on Woodward anyway. ... They’ll be out there, they’ll be helping people, keeping them in line with the governor’s orders, and really it’s an opportunity to make some contact with people and keep everybody safe.”

During a usual Woodward Dream Cruise weekend, the median of the roadway is filled with onlookers to get a glimpse of classic roadsters from yesteryear.

While Ferndale officials did discuss the possibility of people gathering on the median, Gacioch said they didn’t develop an official policy on whether it would be allowed.

“At this time, we’re discouraging it,” he said. “Generally, yes, it’s a state right of way and a state median and there’s no event, (but) we’re discouraging any local events. I can only say we would discourage that to the greatest extent possible out of the respect for public health.”