Okay, non-Detroiters, listen up. You're about to learn about what may be the world's greatest gathering of cars. Already know about it? Well, don't think you already know everything about this event that began in 1995. It's easily the largest, but that doesn't make it the best.
What makes it best is the event's Detroit attitude. This town knows cars. Its people love cars. Spend an afternoon on Woodward Avenue the third Saturday in August and you'll see what we mean. If you couldn't be on The Avenue this Saturday August 18, read on for our take… it'll be just like you were here.
The Woodward Dream Cruise started twelve years ago as a charity event to refurbish a baseball diamond in Ferndale , Michigan , the first community north of Detroit. That year, surprising the organizers, it attracted a few hundred cars and about 30,000 spectators. These days, estimates range wildly from one to two million watching some 40,000 cruisers. A friend of ours from Ford PR quipped, "One million, two million, nobody questions it, but nobody really knows." The reality is that the count doesn't matter. All along the 17 miles from Ferndale to Pontiac , Mich. , people are shoulder to shoulder watching an endless parade of iron happily emitting unburned hydrocarbons.
By the way, if you're into the global-green-save-the-world-by-hugging-a-carbon-sucking-tree thing, we hoped you stayed the hell away and spoiled somebody else's Saturday. If you were there, the best thing about your presence is that you weren't noticed. By anybody.
The parade lap
Saturday is the only official day of The Woodward Dream Cruise, but die-hard cruisers pre-run the route starting no later than Tuesday before. Lawn chairs bounded by yellow caution tape claim the best viewing spots even earlier. However, the event does have an "official" start. It was Friday night. We were there for the pre-ribbon cutting ceremony where local dignitaries spoke. County Sheriff Robert Ficano began his remarks with, "Welcome to the 2007 Dream Cruise. Let the burnouts begin!" He was kidding of course, as his force would no sooner blink than toss you in the clink for disorderly vehicular behavior. Amid the small-town fanfare that included local high-school cheerleaders, Ferndale Mayor Bob Kilger cut the ribbon opening up Woodward Avenue to over 100 old police cars and other emergency and military vehicles. Bob knows how to get everybody's attention.
With all manner of sirens blaring and lights flashing, Woodward Avenue immediately filled with sound, color, horsepower, and testosterone. Our vantage point was in an official parade car — a 2007 Shelby GT 500. We were driven by Ford's Car Marketing Manager, Robert Parker (he's the guy wearing a blue shirt and shades in the ribbon cutting picture). Unlike so many mindless marketing know-nothings, Robert knows a thing or two about cars, including how to lay a good patch of rubber. He demonstrated this on several occasions in front of waving spectators and reserve police officers who conveniently looked the other way in deference to the Shelby 's status in the procession. It's good to know people ub high places.
Living the Dream
It's physically impossible to see everything at The Dream Cruise. As noted, the route covers 17 miles and it's chock full of rolling stock. All along Woodward's east and west sides are businesses with parking lots full of cars. Some spaces host private parties, others are occupied by clubs, and still others are filled with auto squatters. Adding to these private efforts, big money has rolled in, and now corporate gatherings and marketing companies rent the ultra-prime geography to take advantage of the event's huge visibility. Beyond the on-Woodward eye candy, there are numerous displays off Woodward. The aforementioned city of Ferndale played host to a gathering of Mustangs that totaled nearly 600 vehicles spanning the original pony car's entire lifespan. Just looking at these Mustangs would have taken a couple hours.
Regardless of this enormous scope, our Dream Cruise coverage for 2007 will attempt to make you feel as if you were here. If you were here, we hope to show you some things you didn't see. Either way, enjoy.
All our Dream Cruise coverage:
2007 Woodward Dream Cruise Rolls (8/17/2007)
Rumble on the boulevard.