Don’t rain on our (car) parade

Despite hot, rainy weather, Dream Cruise deemed a success

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published August 22, 2016

BIRMINGHAM/BLOOMFIELD — About 1 million people and more than 50,000 sweet rides took over M-1 last Saturday to enjoy the annual Woodward Dream Cruise.

Despite steamy temps and a few poorly placed rain showers, the cruise went off without a hitch, according to police and event organizers in the Eagle’s coverage area.

“It was average crowds for an average Saturday Dream Cruise,” said Cmdr. Scott Grewe, of the Birmingham Police Department.

There were no notable incidents, according to Grewe. A welcome relief, since last year a 1966 Chevrolet Corvette was stolen from the Park Street parking structure during the event, making it the third classic Corvette theft from the city in seven years.

Last year in Bloomfield Hills, a 1966 Chevy Chevelle was loaded onto a trailer and stolen during the night from the Kingsley Inn, on Woodward, after cruise festivities wrapped up.

Bloomfield Hills Public Safety Chief David Hendrickson said his officers were determined not to let something like that happen again.

“We had more people, more eyes out there. We just took a more proactive approach by being available and visible,” Hendrickson said.

Overall, he described the event as uneventful, and he said even traffic was kept under control with a little help from Mother Nature, who dropped a midday shower on the stretch.

Grewe agreed, and said that while the rain did clear out a few car clubs from the area early in the day, many revelers returned with the sun and enjoyed the rest of the event.

The car show in downtown Birmingham was hopping as usual, according to Birmingham Shopping District Executive Director John Heiney. Visitors enjoyed the classic cars and the Chevrolet exhibit in the “triangle” area between South Old Woodward and Woodward Avenue.

Getting particular attention was the No. 100,001 1967 Chevy Camaro that was on display in an illuminated glass box. Heiney said he was told the vehicle was discovered abandoned in a barn before it was restored to appear at the Dream Cruise with the Historic Vehicle Association — an unusual occurrence, since first-production vehicles are typically built exclusively for car shows, and collectors who get their hands on the valuable rides rarely let them go.

Over in Bloomfield Township, car lovers congregated at the Mercedes-Benz dealership of Bloomfield Hills and neighboring Comerica Bank for the annual Classic Car Show and Bill Wells Car Club Classic.

Proceeds from the event went to benefit Bloomfield Township Fire Department Charities, the Bloomfield Township Police Benevolent Fund and the Bloomfield Hills Optimist Club.

Anne Alden, of the Bloomfield Hills Optimist Club, said the car shows were a great success, with the Bill Wells show selling out completely.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better turnout,” she said. “There were food vendors right there making fresh food from scratch, and a DJ playing oldies. There were so many volunteers (that) it was really wonderful — a really can-do spirit. Everyone was happy just to be there.”

Though Alden said she wasn’t sure just how much money was raised for the club from the event, she said the fact that every paid car show slot was filled — with early reservation requests for next year — makes her confident that the fundraiser went well.

“We’ll use (that money) for our Children’s Holiday Wish. We give gifts to low-income children from his or her wish list, and we buy a couple presents from each list. Our chapter alone bought for 3,300 children last year. We’re the little engine that could,” she said.