Traditionally held on the third Saturday in August, the Woodward Dream Cruise began fundraising for a football stadium in Ferndale and has since evolved into the world’s largest one-day motoring event. Over 250,000 people took part in the inaugural cruise, and the event has now attracted over 1 million visitors and over 40,000 muscle cars, street rails, and many other custom, assembled, special interest, and vintage vehicles to the metro Detroit area.
Set this year from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, August 20 — the event expanded today to nine communities across Oakland County, including Pontiac, Bloomfield Township, Bloomfield Hills, Birmingham, Royal Oak, Berkeley, Huntington Woods, Pleasant Ridge and Ferndale.
One of the reasons for the increased popularity was that the event was always changing lanes and going in different directions while staying true to the celebration of classic cars and Motor City.
Michael Larry, president of Woodward Dream Cruise Board, admits he didn’t always understand just how attractive and exhilarating these vintage cars are.“I’m not originally from Michigan,” Larry says. “When I started in 1995, I owned a business in downtown Ferndale and didn’t get it. But once you start talking to classic car owners and car enthusiasts, you quickly realize the passion and connection they have with these cars and at that time.”
Larry says the Woodward Dream Cruise isn’t just a fun event, it’s a safe one—except for a few traffic backups. “What I like most about it is that it is very safe, there is a lot of fun and there are many family friendly events.”
Larry, Ferndale’s Special Events Director, also says it’s important for people to understand that the actual cruise is the only event they organize and run each year.
“One thing a lot of people don’t realize is that there is a difference between a cruise and the events that happen during a cruise,” he says. “Without the cruise down Woodward there would be no Woodward Dream Cruise. Most of the events happen at a specific location and are contained, while the cruise covers 16 miles and goes to multiple cities. Local businesses and private property owners are creative in how they want to participate. We don’t necessarily know what’s going on. outside the actual cruise and we have no control over it in any way.”
The cruise itself, and the many other events organized and run by the various municipalities, are a celebration of all things motoring.
Also, many nonprofits set up special events during the cruise weekend to help raise money.
“And taking advantage of these groups is the bulk of the weekend, along with celebrating our motoring history,” Larry says. “There are also many traditional events that the communities hold each year as well as new ones to help keep the experience fresh and fun. In downtown Ferndale on Fridays, for example, we have the Thanksgiving Parade that people can see up close.”
After a few challenging years due to the pandemic, Larry says it’s rewarding to see communities “speeding up a whole slate of activities, parades, and performances.” And this year, they are putting their feet on the ground with several exciting events including the CruiseFest Classic Car Parade in Berkeley, Ferndale Emergency Auto Show, Mustang Alley and Rock’n Live Entertainment Stage in Ferndale, Performance Park Classic Car Show at Royal Oak, The Pontiac Classic Car Show on Saginaw Street, the Birmingham Cruise Classic Car Show – to name a few.
Larry says that the actual part of the Woodward Dream Cruise’s actual cruise is more than trying to control and organize it over a 16-mile stretch. But it’s important for people to understand that the two farthest right lanes along the Woodward must be used for classic cars only from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, August 20.
“We are ordering this so that people lining up along the road can see the cars up close, appreciate and talk about the cars,” Larry said. “People have to respect that and it’s only for one day, 12 hours, out of the year. The biggest complaint we get from cruisers is that people don’t respect that courtesy.”
Each year, more than 50 local charities benefit from the sale of official Dream Cruise merchandise and refreshments. There are three ways to purchase official merchandise: online at eagraphics.com/wdc/shop/home; at official WDC merchandise websites; Or at the official merchandise booths on the day of the event.
For more information on this year’s Dream Cruise, including an event schedule and visitor’s guide, visit woodwarddreamcruise.com.