More than classics turning heads at Dream Cruise as crowds jam Woodward

Royal Oak — Woodward Avenue is crammed, jammed and slammed and that’s just how the Dream Cruise should be.

It’s like Woodstock on wheels, but instead of hippies, we have HEMIS and instead of Crosby, Stills and Nash, we have Camaros, Super Sports and Novas.

It’s standing room only along almost the entire route, especially on the stretch between 12 Mile and 14 Mile. The area near Evergreen Cemetery, in Berkley, was a city in itself: an endless line of canopies, tents, lawn chairs, RVs, cars, vans, pickup trucks, moms, dads, kids and dogs who are just happy to be out of the house.

Traffic on northbound Woodward between Nine Mile and 11 Mile was incredible—a conga line of cars and motorcycles inching their way toward the action farther north.

The cruising couldn’t be better.

Take perfect weather, combine it with thousands of classic Detroit Iron and then throw in happy, orderly crowds and you have the makings of a high-octane party on a monumental scale.

Cruisers have been marking the days to the Woodward Dream Cruise on their calendars and today is the day. It may be hard to believe, but today’s cruise may be even better than the pre-cruise on Friday night, which many people think is better than the official cruise on Saturday.

And it’s not just the classics that are drawing crowds.

The cars and crews from Michigan’s newest auto craze, the Michigan Gumball Rally, are turning heads from fans in Ferndale. The second annual rally, held the weekend before the Dream Cruise, comprised of 32 vehicles traveling about 1,200 miles across the state, from Detroit to Sault St. Marie back to the Automotive Hall of Fame in Detroit.

Theresa Parker participated this year with her boyfriend Dan Elliott in her gumball-themed Stratus, which cruisers seemed to get a kick out of.

“You know you’re driving the car and you forget it has gumballs all over it,” said Parker. “Then you think, ‘Why is everyone staring at me?'”

The Rally will also be held in Florida in January and Wisconsin in June as the group expands.

“I’ve had guys come up to me and say ‘I’m 40 years old and that was the most fun I’ve ever had in my life,'” said Parker.

North in Pontiac, it was a karaoke singer that had cruisers in awe.

Lady Soul, a 57-year-old Pontiac resident, belted out “Turn Me On” by Norah Jones at a karaoke contest in Pontiac’s Phoenix Center and advanced to the competition final at 7 p.m. tonight.

Lady Soul said she’s a karaoke veteran and has never sung professionally.

“It puts joy in my heart,” she said. “I like people to feel what I feel.”

The judges thought she was so impressive that they invited her for an encore performance— “At Last” by Etta James.

Lady Soul’s son, Kenneth Betty, owns a 1979 Trans Am and said he and his mother love the variety of cars at the show.

Earlier in the morning, the attention shifted to human power, when the 5K Cruise in Shoes was held early Saturday morning on southbound Woodward just north of 13 Mile.

Joel and Kate Walczy came for the cruising and for some exercise with their daughter Alexandra, 2,

“We ran and pushed Alexandra in a stroller,” Kate said.

“It was fun and so cool to be running on Woodward.”

Joel agreed: “They don’t shut down Woodward for nothing,” he said with a smile.

After the race, the Grosse Pointe Farms couple will do a little cruising of their own.

“In our minivan,” smiled Kate.

Hey, cruising is cruising, no matter what make or model. It can still be done with style.

Reporters Tony Briscoe, Michael Martinez and Doug Guthrie contributed to this story.

Tom Greenwood
Tom Greenwood has been up to his neck in concrete and asphalt since starting his column in December 1997. He generally looks at commuting from the driver's point of view and centers itself on subjects such as road construction (when, where, why and how long), gas prices, traffic laws, seat belt use, safety issues, question and answer columns and the occasional oddball story from readers.