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Dream Cruise to pack familiar events into fun-filled weekend

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published August 14, 2013

 The Woodward Dream Cruise returns to Ferndale Aug. 16 and 17 with familiar events filling up the weekend. From the Lights & Sirens Cruise to the Mustang Alley, patrons will be able to check out hundreds of classic and new cars.

The Woodward Dream Cruise returns to Ferndale Aug. 16 and 17 with familiar events filling up the weekend. From the Lights & Sirens Cruise to the Mustang Alley, patrons will be able to check out hundreds of classic and new cars.

File photo by Andrew Potter

FERNDALE — In recent weeks, a new Ford Motor Company billboard went up along northbound Woodward Avenue in Ferndale. The sign includes the usual vehicle and logos, but it is something right in front of the sign that makes it unique.

Placed on the billboard ledge are several lawn chairs with mannequins relaxing in them, watching the two-dimensional car on the billboard as it appears to want to rip itself off of the sign and onto Woodward.

It is time, once again, for the Woodward Dream Cruise.

The 19th annual Woodward Dream Cruise is just days away, as it begins with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Aug. 16 on East Nine Mile Road in Ferndale. Guest speakers for the ceremony include Mrs. Michigan America Laura Zdravkovski, Republican Sen. John Pappageorge and Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.

And to keep in theme with classic cars, the “Hot Rod Lincoln” that inspired the song of the same name will be present, along with owner David Demangone.

“Charlie Ryan sang a song about the Hot Rod Lincoln and it is still a song that is being re-recorded today,” Woodward Dream Cruise Event Director Michael Lary said. “This is the type of car that fits right into the Dream Cruise. It is not just a restored classic car, but it has a music and film history attached to it, as well.”

The third annual Michigan Gumball Rally on West Nine Mile Road will bring more sports, movie and television vehicles into the mix Aug. 17. Cars similar to the ones seen in the “Back to the Future” movies, as well as “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “Knight Rider,” will be on display.

“These movie and television cars are more there for the fun of it because it brings back memories of the past and people who grew up watching these movies and shows can relate to them,” Lary said. “But the average person not into cars can relate, too, because they represent the history of television and movies, and kids today can watch.”

Before the Gumball Rally, however, is the Lights & Sirens Cruise at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 16 along East Nine Mile and Woodward. Using vehicles from the Emergency Vehicle Show, the Lights & Sirens Cruise allows patrons to see classic emergency vehicles from several different decades.

Lary said like almost every aspect of the Dream Cruise, the Lights & Sirens Cruise takes people back to a different time and provides a sense of nostalgia for those looking on.

“Almost every little boy wants to grow up and be a fireman or a policeman, but when they do grow up and they aren’t, they can see this line of emergency vehicles and their whole attitude is like they are 12 again,” he said. “You see that excitement in their face for that spur of the moment and they are a little boy again. Some of these vehicles are classics and restored from time periods that some people looking on lived in and they saw these vehicles put out fires and protect their community.”

The 15th annual Mustang Alley, starting at 10 a.m. Aug. 17 on West Nine Mile, is another favorite of those who attend the Dream Cruise, Lary said. The event brings in nearly 800 classic, restored, custom and new Ford Mustangs and allows people to see how the car developed and changed over the years.

Joann Willcock, a Ferndale resident and volunteer with the Dream Cruise since its beginning, said all the different events, from the Mustang Alley to the Lights & Sirens Cruise, bring the community together for an exciting weekend.

“I love looking at the old cars and the new ones, but I really like being able to do that in my own community,” Willcock said. “It was people from my generation that started the cruise, and I go every year and see friends I haven’t seen since the previous year. This is just an event that has grown and brought the community together.”

Over the years, Willcock and her family have helped in merchandise sales, caring for vendors and even helping with electrical problems. Five years ago, Willcock and her husband bought their first classic car, a 1957 Chevy 210.

Being part of the Dream Cruise has allowed Willcock and her generation to reflect on the past, she said, while also allowing the new generation to get a peek at how vehicles used to be made.

“The younger kids, they see so many styles of cars today and they just don’t have the same character as the older cars,” Willcock said. “The Dream Cruise brings back fun times we had as teenagers and it keeps us in our childhood a little bit. A lot of young people are interested, too, and I think it has to do with the character of the cars at that time.”

And it is the youth taking an interest in the classic cars that gives Lary hope, he said, that the cruise will continue for many years to come.

“These older guys sit back in their lawn chairs and they share history, and while the younger kids may not necessarily relate to what they are telling them, one day we will all get there,” Lary said. “What kids find as a cool car now, in 25 years they will be doing the same thing guys are doing with their classic cars now.”

For more information on the Woodward Dream Cruise, visit