The Woodward Dream Cruise is five days away, but cruisers are in full force along Woodward Avenue and throughout Metro Detroit – and Patch is there. Follow this live blog, compiled by Patch staffers and contributors, all week and through the Dream Cruise on Saturday, Aug. 20.
Mike Detrych, a Northville resident, purchased his 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle after returning home from Vietnam, and after spending more than 30 years of its life as the family car, the red beauty is finally restored and ready for the Dream Cruise spotlight.
10:15 p.m., Birmingham: Veteran offers tips for finding bathrooms on Dream Cruise day
If you hit up the Woodward Dream Cruise on Saturday, checking out classic hot rods and fast cars will be easy. But what about finding the nearest bathroom? Not too easy.
After years of living only a few short miles from the Dream Cruise in Beverly Hills, car enthusiast and Dream Cruise veteran Russ Hawkinson has these insider tips for Cruise-goers who need to go:
- The Original Pancake House, on Woodward south of Maple, is usually a good bet, Hawkinson said, though the women’s restroom is inconveniently at the back of the restaurant.
- McDonald's, south of 13 Mile Road in Royal Oak, typically lets Cruise-goers use their restrooms, Hawkinson said. Most fast food restaurants, he said, do.
- Pasquales, south of Normandy Road in Royal Oak, has restrooms in the basement, he said, making it easy to pop in and out.
- If you’re hanging out in Birmingham anyway, make a side trip to Village Coney on Adams Street, which usually opens its bathrooms to cruisers.
- The Birmingham Masonic Lodge, north of Big Beaver in Bloomfield Hills, opens its doors on Cruise day. For $15 a person, cruisers can park their cars all day (and leave and come when they want), and have all the food and drink they want. The best part? Air conditioning and clean bathrooms, Hawkinson said.
Many restaurants, Hawkinson said, reserve their restrooms for paying customers. In that case, “buy a Coke,” he said. Most businesses, though, are open to cruisers’ need.
9:53 p.m., Royal Oak: The Spectator Sport
Stacey Ersin and Joe Jabber were two of many spectators on Woodward Avenue on Monday night. Like many, the 20-year-old and 18-year-old from Warren sat on the bumper open truck SUV, gazing at the passing cars.
"I just like looking at the old ones, to see how they have changed," Ersin said.
Jabber said they'd stay only until he finishes a few more cigarettes, but that he was looking forward to the real show on Saturday.
"I'll probably try to walk the whole thing," he said, though, according to the Woodward Dream Cruise website, the event is 16 miles long. He added, "Well, maybe not the whole thing, but I'll try to watch a lot of it."
9:30 p.m., Birmingham: Car fans fill in along Woodward
Though most cruisers admit the hub of the Woodward Dream Cruise is the 13 Mile and Woodward area, car watchers began parking their classic cars in the parking lots north of 14 Mile on Monday night, filling in still somewhat empty but prime Woodward-viewing real estate.
Two of those fans were John Riddle and Brian Thornhill, both drivers with Bob Adams Towing in Birmingham. The pair, who usually tow cars for the Birmingham Police Department, said they didn't have much to do Monday night, so Riddle said they brought their tow trucks just south of Forest Avenue, parked them in the shade and watched the cruisers drive by.
"This has been going on for three weeks now," Riddle said. "We try to catch it when we can."
Another car fan out Monday night was Dan Habel, from Sterling Heights, who had parked his lawn chair in the triangle of grass at the intersection of Old Woodward and Woodward. Where was his hot rod? Habel said his teal green 1965 Mercury Comet was sitting in the shop with a cracked windshield.
"The car is very pretty," he said. "I like it because it's like a battleship it's so big."
The Northwood shopping center at 13 Mile in Royal Oak is a favorite place for parking your classic or wandering around to look at them. Monday night around 8 p.m. was no exception; from a boat car to a DeLorean with its gull wing doors, there was plenty of classic eye candy. Check out the gallery.
Early Bird Cruisin': Monday Evening
8:45 p.m. Berkley, The Shrine Catholic School's Mother's Club been selling Dream Cruise clothing since 5 p.m., right in the parking lot of the Shrine Grade School on Woodward Avenue. Mother's Club member, Rose Golias, 44, of Royal Oak, said all proceeds go to the Shrine Catholic Schools.
When asked if there was any spirit of competition between their merchandise tent and the official merchandise tent located just across the street near the Roseland Park Cemetery, on 12 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue, she said no, adding that she has referred customers to the other tent if she is out of a certain, official Dream Cruise T-shirt.
7:40 p.m. Berkley, Pat Wiegand of Oakland Township said she chose Monday to cruise in her bright-pink 1955 Thunderbird — complete with a pair of fluffy dashboard dice — because Woodward would be too packed with cars to hit cruising speeds further in the week. She said she has been cruising ever since she was a kid. In fact, her passion for Dream Cruise is so strong, she said she once turned down a work trip to Paris becuase it fell on the day of the Dream Cruise.
She can't stay away in part because the 66-year-old said she loves the way others look at her car.
"I love how the girls smile when they see the bright pink," she said.
Chevrolet is 100 years old this year, and it's celebrating in Birmingham. Though officially one of the sponsors for the 2011 Woodward Dream Cruise, Chevrolet will be setting up in Birmingham between the 555 building on South Old Woodward and Lincoln Avenue — technically making it part of the Birmingham Cruise Event going on that day.
As part of its centennial celebrations, Chevrolet will begin the day at 9 a.m. Saturday with a parade of 100 cars from the Michigan state fairgrounds to Pontiac and ending in Bloomfield Hills. At the Chevrolet tent on Old Woodward, the classic car brand will have nearly 300 classic cars and some of its newest models, entertainment and interactive product displays.
Hunter House, the legendary burger joint that began feeding the original cruisers way back in 1952, has transformed its Birmingham parking lot into a public party site. There are two tents, 14 round tables, four stand-up tables, curbside seating, a music stage, six portable toilets and – thoughtfully – two hand sinks and an outside ATM. Outside grilling alongside Woodward started around 4 p.m. Monday and continues through Saturday night. Live music kicks off Wednesday evening.
Unlike some years, the popular stop isn't rented for VIP events Friday night or Saturday. "I prefer to give back to my customers and let anyone come," says owner Susan Cobb of West Bloomfield, who was polishing cooking trailer counters Monday afternoon. "It's the week we wait for all year." She has staffed up for as many as 30,000 customers. Expanded hours start Wednesday, when the small diner-style restaurant opens from 8 a.m. until midnight or 1 a.m., depending on patronage. Cobb, daughter of retired owner Al Papazian, cruises on natural adrenaline through days that can exceed 18 hours and include floor naps. "He'll be here," she says of her 85-year-old dad. "He loves it."
Here's what customers and cruisers will hear:
- Wednesday, 6–10 p.m.: Toppermost Beatles Tribute Band, which played Aug. 3 in Shain Park as part of the city's free weekly summer series.
- Thursday, 6-10 p.m.: Trilogy, a six-piece Motown and classic rock band from Lincoln Park
- Thursday, 5 p.m.-close: (During band breaks) Fred "Boogie" Brian of WOMC
- Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.: Legend, The Band -- a '50s-'70s group
- Friday, 6-10 p.m.: Toppermost returns. (The band also plays alongside Woodward on Saturday in Ferndale from 7-9 p.m.)
- Friday, 10 p.m.-close: WOMC DJ
- Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.: Elvis tribute singer Fred Wolfe of Westland
- Saturday, 1-4 p.m.: Classic Beat, '50s-60s rockers
- Saturday, 10 a.m.-close: (Filling breaks) WOMC DJ
Fiat of Birmingham opens Tuesday at Woodward and Bowers, right alongside the cruise corridor. Saturday visitors will include enthusiasts from the Fiat-Lancia Ulimited In Detroit (FLUID) club, who own vintage Italian cars. "We'll display about a dozen new models out front, starting mid-week," says manager Mike Golling. "When the collectors arrive, we'll move ours so they can park in those high-visibility spots."
The new dealership will tape off its side lot for a viewing area and will give away bottled water during the cruise. The flashy silver-and-red showroom is designed by architect Robert Ziegelman of Bloomfield Hills.
Dealers host car buffs in Troy
Owners will show off dozens of classic, custom and tricked-out vehicles Tuesday evening at an annual cruise tie-in two miles east of Woodward. The Suburban Collection, a cluster of more than a dozen dealers, hosts the Maplelawn Car Show and Cruise from 6-8:30 p.m. at Fisher Body, 1759 Maplelawn Dr. "This is the perfect warmup for the Woodward Dream Cruise," says Dan Boismier, online sales director at Suburban Collection.
Five days to go: Mixed mood for some business owners
10 a.m., Birmingham. "It's a nuisance," said Bill Roberts, owner of Town Tavern in Royal Oak and Streetside Seafood in Birmingham. "A lot of our regulars stay away." Cruise "tourists," as he calls them, offset the drop. "We do have some newcomers," Roberts said from his office on Woodward in Birmingham. "We're no better, no worse."
1:14 p.m. Sunday, Rochester: "We will lose approximately $100,000 of business this week," co-owner Anthony Curtis of Papa Joe's Gourmet Market said via email. He's referring to a net sales drop in Birmingham as regulars avoid congestion. The Woodward shop, always jammed on cruise day and preceding evenings, does see a spike in beverage, sandwich, salad, pizza and snack sales. With sidewalk and patio tables and a bistro license, the Papa is a popular pit stop for spectators.
Weekend on Woodward: The Live Blog: Clawson's Down on Main Street Car Show, Rockin Rods n' Rochester and more.
Patch Has the Cruise Covered: A complete list of profiles, cool cars and stories on the people and the communities involved in the Dream Cruise