Woodward Dream Cruise brings automotive affection to Royal Oak

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published August 7, 2017

 Theo and Hugo Frick, ages 3 and 6, of Oakland Township, watch the Dream Cruise along Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak in 2016.

Theo and Hugo Frick, ages 3 and 6, of Oakland Township, watch the Dream Cruise along Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak in 2016.

File photo by Erin Sanchez


ROYAL OAK — The 23rd annual Woodward Dream Cruise will return this month with a new presenting sponsor, thousands of classic vehicles and more than a million enthusiasts lining the iconic avenue.

The annual event officially will take place Aug. 19 and stretch from Ferndale north to Pontiac. The happening is always held the third Saturday in August, although residents in the cruise communities know that the event starts unofficially weeks before.

The cruise started as a fundraiser for a Ferndale soccer field in 1995 and has grown into an event spanning multiple communities and attracting more than 40,000 vehicles and 1.2 million people throughout the world.

Ford stepped in as this year’s presenting sponsor after Chevrolet ended its six-year relationship as the main sponsor of the event. 

“We’re really happy to have Ford as the new presenting sponsor this year,” said Greg Rassel, president of the Woodward Dream Cruise board. Rassel also serves as Royal Oak’s director of the Departments of Public Services and Recreation.

In addition to its Mustang Alley display nearing 20 years in Ferndale, Ford will host new events and displays in Royal Oak, including presenting its performance lineup in the Duggan’s Irish Pub parking lot and Normandy Plaza.

“There will be all sorts of interactive displays in there,” Rassel said.

What once was the epicenter of the cruise — the southwest corner of Woodward Avenue and 13 Mile Road — is now closed for construction of a $33 million Beaumont lifestyle community. Plans for the 15-acre Beaumont-owned property include a 41,000-square-foot grocery store; six commercial buildings, including national and local retailers; a conference center; and a five-story, 100-room hotel.

“People who normally gathered in the Northwood plaza will have to relocate this year,” Rassel said. 

The corner used to serve as a top spectator location along with car shows, but Rassel said the intersection will still see plenty of action in Memorial Park, located at the northeast corner.

“We’re having our car show in Memorial Park with vendor displays, as we traditionally have for the past 10-plus years,” he said, adding that there will be parking available at 13 Mile Road and Coolidge Highway for $10 so that people may park and walk over to the event.

“There will also be several car displays up and down the street,” Rassel said.

Events in Royal Oak during the Woodward Dream Cruise weekend include:

Car show
Attending the Dream Cruise and interested in an up-close look at some classic machinery? 

The Performance Park Classic Car Show will take place from noon to 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18, and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19, at Memorial Park, located at the northeast corner of 13 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue. The event will feature General Motors performance vehicles, other vendor displays and a food court.

For the kids
Ford and 104.3 WOMC will host the Family Fun Zone from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19, at Pioneer Park, located at Parkway Drive and Normandy Road, west of Woodward Avenue.

The free event will include inflatables, face painting, coloring for kids, live entertainment, a photo booth, Kroger samples, a petting farm and safe-driving tips for young drivers.

Getting fit
The sixth annual Cruise in Shoes 5K Fun Run and Walk, presented by AAA, will take place at 7:30 a.m. Aug. 19 beginning on Yorba Linda Boulevard and finishing at Shrine High School, 3500 W. 13 Mile Road. The run will wind through Royal Oak neighborhood streets and down historic Woodward Avenue on Dream Cruise day. Participants may sign up the day of the event at Shrine High School. The event will feature a costume contest and awards. The cost to register is $35 through Aug. 17 and $40 the day of the event.

Cruise in Shoes is the first official event taking place on Woodward Dream Cruise morning.

For parking and packet pickup information, visit www.cruiseinshoes.com.

Once again, 104.3 WOMC will be broadcasting live from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19, at CVS Pharmacy at the corner of 13 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue. 

Fifty Amp Fuse will perform from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19, at Duggan’s Irish Pub, 31501 Woodward Ave.

Giving back
The 15th annual Cruisin’ to Drive Out Hunger benefiting Forgotten Harvest will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18, at Westborn Market, 27659 Woodward Ave. 

Organizers said the event will feature a sneak preview of the Woodward Dream Cruise, craft beer and spirits, a photo booth, a taste fest by local restaurants, and valet parking. Live entertainment will be provided by Larry Lee & the Back in the Day Band. 

The dress code is summer chic. Tickets cost $150, and attendees must be 21 or older to attend.

For more information, visit www.forgottenharvest.org/events.

Art exhibit
The Chrome, Fins & Style and Woodward Memories exhibits are running now through Sept. 16 from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at the Royal Oak Historical Museum, 1411 W. Webster Road. The exhibits will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on cruise day. 

“People should stop by to see what Woodward was like in the real cruising days,” said Randy Burean, museum volunteer and historical car show chairman. 

Original drawings of many of the cars cruising down Woodward Avenue will be on display. The Chrome, Fins & Style exhibit also will feature a special salute to the contributions of women and minority designers. The Woodward Memories exhibit will depict how Woodward Avenue appeared from the 1900s through the current day.

For more information, call (248) 439-1501.