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 After local municipalities urged the Woodward Dream Cruise board not to hold the event this year, the board voted June 30 to cancel the annual celebration, seen here last year.

After local municipalities urged the Woodward Dream Cruise board not to hold the event this year, the board voted June 30 to cancel the annual celebration, seen here last year.

File photo by Donna Agusti

Woodward Dream Cruise board cancels event

Local cities had urged board not to hold this year’s cruise

By: Mike Koury, Tiffany Esshaki | Woodward Talk | Published July 6, 2020

FERNDALE/OAKLAND COUNTY — Every August, Woodward Avenue is filled with visitors for the annual Dream Cruise, a celebration of classic vehicles and the people who love them.

With COVID-19 forcing people to socially distance, the cities that usually host related events for the Woodward Dream Cruise declined to hold them this year. That included all cities in the Woodward Talk’s coverage area.

After a period of discussions, the board of the Woodward Dream Cruise voted June 30 to scrap the massive event planned for Saturday, Aug. 15.

According to Michael Lary, the president of the Woodward Dream Cruise board, there were a lot of things that factored into the tough decision to hit the brakes.

“If you backtrack to April, the board made the decision to cancel all the community events — or what I call the ‘bells and whistles’ — to do what we could to significantly reduce the audience that comes out to the Dream Cruise,” Lary said. “And then elected officials had decided (the virus) warranted concerns, and some communities felt we needed to do more than just cancel events. Without much going on as far as the car shows, the entertainment, the festivals, there won’t be much taking place this year other than enjoying the cruisers cruising Woodward. We’re hoping that will be the discouragement to come out to Woodward.”

Before the Woodward Dream Cruise board voted to cancel the entire event, the Ferndale City Council, Berkley City Council and Huntington Woods City Commission all passed resolutions that advocated for the Dream Cruise’s board of directors to officially suspend the event and stop its promotion.

Ferndale passed its resolution at its May 26 meeting. As the city already indicated it wouldn’t be holding large-scale gatherings until after Labor Day, that means events like Mustang Alley won’t be coming to Nine Mile Road this year.

“We won’t be holding those (events). We can control that, and what we’re saying by resolution to the Dream Cruise board is, ‘Hey, it doesn’t make sense to promote the Dream Cruise event as a whole this year,’” City Manager Joe Gacioch said.

While the city understands people will likely continue to cruise Woodward that weekend, Gacioch said that what Ferndale doesn’t want is thousands of people packing the streets to take in the view of the classic vehicles driving down the road.

“What we don’t want to encourage is dense crowds of spectators along the Woodward median and all of our city right of ways, because that would make it very difficult for us to reinforce the public health standards of social distancing, and frankly, it puts our law enforcement officials and other city officials in risks they don’t otherwise need to be taking,” he said.

Berkley, which holds its own classic car parade each year during the Dream Cruise weekend, passed its resolution at its June 1 meeting. Mayor Dan Terbrack said at the meeting that this decision wasn’t something any of the communities wanted to do or see happen, but it’s one all of the cities are making on a united front to protect the safety of not only their residents, but the thousands of people who visit the Woodward corridor each year.

“The last thing any of us want to see is a spike or increase in cases in September, a couple of weeks after the Dream Cruise, because we would have nobody to blame but ourselves if we allow that to happen,” he said. “As difficult of a decision as this is … changes have to be made, we have to adjust and this is something that the mayors and managers have gotten together and have discussed.”

“I would agree that it seems as if the municipalities are really trying to convey the message to the Dream Cruise board, and we’re hoping that if we’re all united, they’ll get that message a little bit more loudly and clearly,” he continued.

Huntington Woods was the first city to pass its resolution, which it did at its May 19 meeting. Commissioner Jules Olsman said he doesn’t see how the state of affairs at this time, in terms of public health, lends itself to supporting the Dream Cruise.

“It’s just too many people,” he said. “Even the other night, we get a nice night out on Woodward and the cruisers were out in force and in groups and having a good time. Normally it would be fine. Right now, it’s just a little bit concerning. It’s a bad position to have to be in all the way around … but it’s the right decision to have to make.”

While Pleasant Ridge didn’t take up a formal resolution against the promotion of the Cruise, City Manager James Breuckman stated in an email that the city issued an administrative letter urging the Dream Cruise board to cancel the official event, and that they also support the resolutions passed by the other cities. As the commission only convenes once a month, he said they didn’t have a meeting ahead of when the Dream Cruise board was set to meet.

“The letter we sent was substantially the same as the resolutions that were passed by the other cities,” Breuckman said.

Even though municipalities voiced their objections to hosting a cruise this year early on during the COVID-19 crisis, Lary said the board waited until late June — less than two months before the event — to cancel the event.

“We had to sort through all of these legal issues with our brand, like trademarking and bootlegging, and we had to get a better understanding of what goes into all that, because we’ve never had any of these concerns in the past 25 years,” Lary explained. “And there are a lot of nonprofits that typically fundraise during the Dream Cruise and sell the official merchandise and (bring in revenue) off that, and now that’s not going to happen. There will be a huge amount of damage to a lot of organizations and businesses because of COVID-19, and it will continue to do that. We just hope normalcy will come and bring a cure or a vaccine.”