Woodward Dream Cruise: An American Tradition,
A Global Event
Woodward Avenue is America’s first highway that runs from the heart of downtown Detroit 30 miles out of the city to Pontiac, Michigan. In the 50s and 60s it was dotted with diners and drive-ins making it a very popular cruising strip for the local youth who would show off their hot rods, muscle cars and classic convertibles every weekend.
It was in 1994 that a gentleman by the name of Nelson House from Ferndale, Michigan was looking for a way to raise money to create a youth soccer field in his community. He came up with the idea to have a classic car cruising event on Woodward Ave. in an attempt to let people remember and relive the golden era that he enjoyed as a youth.
Nelson contacted his friend Jean Chamberlain, who later became the Cruise founding president, with his idea and together they started putting together the foundation for the event. “It sounded like there would be more cities interested than just Ferndale,” Chamberlain said. “I gave (Nelson) the numbers of the chamber directors on the route to Pontiac, and he called them and set up a meeting. That was how the Woodward Dream Cruise (WDC) was born.”
With the help of some local volunteers they organized the first event which happened on August 19, 1995. The organizers hoped to have 25,000 in attendance and would consider that to be a success. When around 250,000 people showed up they were blown away! Every year since the Dream Cruise has been held on the third Saturday of August and attendance records grew each and every year. By 2009 over one million people were in attendance with over 30,000 classic cars and trucks cruising the strip making it the largest one day automotive event in the world.
The “Big Three” automakers along with other local businesses now help to sponsor the non-profit event with all proceeds being split equally with the townships that are host including Berkley, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, Ferndale, Huntington Woods, Pleasant Ridge, Pontiac and Royal Oak, in Southeast Michigan. The show has become much more commercial in recent years with businesses and vendors putting on parties, however despite its size it still retains the feeling of a small town event that celebrates Americana history.
The WDC now draws spectators and cruisers from all around the globe. Enthusiast come from as far away as New Zealand and Japan every year just to take place in the show. This year was the 20th annual event and it saw around 1.5 million attendees and car owners along with over 40,000 classic vehicles. In addition to the 16 mile stretch of cars along Woodward Ave, there is also the a fundraiser marathon the morning of the show. This year marked the annual Cruise in Shoes 5K Fun Run/Walk where participants partake in a foot race to help raise even more money for the local communities.
If you are a classic car enthusiast and you have never attended the WDC than we highly suggest you add it to your bucket list. While the 2014 show has come and gone you still have plenty of time to make arrangements to see the 21st annual Woodward Dream Cruise going down on Saturday, August 15, 2015. Until then please enjoy the photos we have from this year’s show.
Tags: WDC, Woodward Avenue, Woodward Dream Cruise
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