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Live on Woodward, Tuesday: Cruising Heats Up

There was a festive air and lots of cars cruising Woodward on Tuesday evening, but there didn't appear to be any major issues.

The Woodward Dream Cruise is four days away, with cruisers already in full force along Woodward Avenue and in communities throughout Metro Detroit – and Patch is on the scene. Follow this live blog, compiled by Patch staffers, all week and through the Dream Cruise on Saturday, Aug. 20.

10:30 p.m., Huntington Woods: Pete Guerrieri will celebrate his 53rd birthday on Saturday – the day of the Woodward Dream Cruise – and looks forward to the "biggest show ever."

Tuesday, to avoid the pre-Dream Cruise craziness, Guerrieri parked his Buggy in Huntington Woods, where few other cruisers were parked. He preferred to get away from the crowds.

"The first five years of Dream Cruise were awesome," Guerrieri said. "But it got bigger and bigger and had more drunks; they ruin it for everyone."

So the Warren man parked outside the Huntington Group medical practice on Woodward Avenue near West First Street, far away from some of the activity he said dampens his favorite celebration of the year.

Come Saturday, the love affair with the biggest classic car cruise on Earth will draw him again. Why? Put simply, he said: "I love the Dream Cruise."

9:15 p.m., Berkley: Berkley Public Safety Deputy Chief Bob North said that despite the growing crowd as the Dream Cruise approaches, he hasn't seen any serious incidents. Still, he is cruising alongside Mike Koehler, operations manager of Alliance Mobile Health, to patrol and educate cruisegoers on staying safe and within the law.

"We are just making sure that traffic is staying safe and alcohol is not being used," he said.

North said given the congestion on Woodward, it is crucial for cruisers to practice ordinary safe-driving techniques: making sure to allow enough space between cars, obeying speeding limits and refraining from burning out. "Cruise safely. Follow the law. Be considerate," he advised.

9 p.m., Sagamore Motor Lodge, Royal Oak: Need a hotel room? You aren't going to have any luck at the Sagamore Motor Lodge, on Woodward south of 13 Mile Road in Royal Oak. The motel, right in the heart of cruiseland, is booked solid, said the night clerk, who added that its starts booking up in March. So maybe you can get a jump for next year?

8:30 p.m., Royal Oak: They may not be in the same category as the 1940 Olds or 1957 Bel Air, but the owners of 21 Pontiac G8 sports sedans, produced for just two years starting in 2008, believe they have a reason to celebrate their "exclusive" vehicles.

After all, only 37,000 of the vehicles were made, said G8 owner Michael Hardy, 68, of Shelby Township. 

The 21 G8 owners gathered at 12 Mile and Woodward in a Shrine church parking lot for the G8 Meetup. Most who showed up regularly post to the forum of g8board.com, a website where the car owners swap stories, discuss modifications and talk about sightings.

7 p.m., Royal Oak: Cover band Hype Syndicate was on an Oakland County Parks and Recreation stage in downtown Royal Oak on Tuesday evening singing "I had the time time of my life" – and hundreds of kids were feeling it.

The Kids Cruise is an annual kids paradise, happening tonight on Fifth and Sixth streets between Washington and Center. 

Fifth Street has been transformed into an “Explore-a-Truck” area where kids can climb into police cars, fire trucks, dump trucks and mail trucks, and sit in the scoop of a cherry picker. In the parking lot off Center Street there are giant inflatables, a climbing wall and crafts galore – and it's all free.

At 8:30 p.m. the crowd will be treated to the movie Gnomeo & Juliet, which will play on a giant outdoor movie screen.

About 3,000 visitors are expected before the evening is over, said Stephanie McIntyre of the Downtown Development Association.

6:50 p.m., Troy: About three dozen cream puff classics and growling muscle machines drew stares and compliments at a outside in the Suburban Collection motor mall. Dealership employees, family members and friends showed off collectible cars, many reflecting owners' passions from their day jobs.

Bill Trandell of Sterling Heights sat alongside the gleaming black 1973 Dart Sport with pinstripes that he bought five years ago. "I'll be cruising Woodward tonight and every night through Saturday," he said. "I've missed only once since 1995 – because I was out of town."

Another eye-catcher was a 1932 Ford Coupe that owner Greg Ornazian of Rochester describes as "seafoam green" in color.

Treat Dreams and Ferndale Patch are teaming up to change your life, with ice cream, during the Woodward Dream Cruise. All you have to do is post a picture of yourself with a classic car on your Facebook page with the caption "I'm Cruising to Treat Dreams," print it out, take it to  and get 25 percent off your entire order.

As a bonus, write "I Love The Patch" on the printout and enter a drawing to win FREE ice cream for the rest of the year (one pint a week). Sweet! 

Farmington Hills resident Lincoln Avery, 80, took a spin in his in Tuesday's Senior Dream Cruise in West Bloomfield, and that suited him just fine as a substitute for Saturday's big event.

 "You can go faster in these vehicles than you can during the Woodward Dream Cruise," said Avery, who fell in love with a '40 Olds back when he went to college at MSU. "If you go slow with antique vehicles, it's not good for the radiator."

Fans unable to make their way to Graceland to mark today's 34th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley will have a way to honor the King of rock 'n' roll at the Woodward Dream Cruise on Saturday. will bring his swiveling hips to the  in Birmingham from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Will he arrive in a pink caddy? No, sorry to burst your bubble: Wolfe drives a plain ol' minivan.

For Harold Cassie, the he brought to a recent Cruis'n the Grand Monday night car event in Farmington has sentimental value "My father bought it from a school teacher in Detroit and he was restoring it" said Cassie, 64. "He did most of the work on it and I did help a bit. He passed away in 1994, so my son and I finished it in his memory in 2000."

Dream Cruise fans and vintage car collectors come in all shapes and sizes, and so do the cars they collect. , 44, has a eye for Hollywood cars and has been collecting 1:18 and 1:64 scale cars from television and movies for about 10 years.

Some of the cars in his collection are worth nearly $200, but none of them are for sale. You’ll find Johnson at the Dream Cruise on Saturday, working for Royal Oak's public access TV station CMN and hoping to catch a glimpse of real TV and movie cars.  Johnson said many of the show cars wind up at the  on Woodward. 

David Gifford of Rochester loved his  – even if no one else did. "This car is nothing special to most people, but it was to me, said the Rochester man. "It was built the way they used to make 'em: body-on-frame construction, V-8, chrome bumpers, big grill, hood ornament and triangle vent windows. It was my classroom for learning car repair.

"I could carry a full load of friends, and the trunk was huge. Over time. I lined the interior with faux leopard. It may seem like an odd choice, but I love all things retro, and to me, it was a 1950s leopard lounge."

Memories of 'a serious drag strip'

Woodward wasn't the area's only cruising hot spot back in the day, recalls Birmingham native Lynn Fremuth. "There was another drag strip that never gets mentioned," she posted this week on Facebook. "Coolidge Road, at that time, was a two-lane blacktop. And calling it 'blacktop' is even a stretch. It was oil over packed dirt."

Her recollection, quoted with permission, continues: "The east-west Birmingham residential concrete ended when it hit Coolidge. We lived three houses down, on Derby. North of us on Coolidge, it was fields, woods and farmland. (There were two working farms at the corner of Big Beaver and Coolidge.) The stretch between Derby and Big Beaver did service as a serious drag strip for locals. Few cops. Even less traffic. Vrrrooom! Somerset — first apartments, then mall — changed everything."

The two-lane road was widened, paved and renamed Coolidge Highway. Fremuth, now living in Bloomfield Hills, graduated from  in 1970 as Lynn Branaka. She and other teen cruisers headed to  on Coolidge in Royal Oak, founded in 1958 and still a popular destination.

, the custom embroidery shop at 33214 Woodward Ave. in Birmingham, will be raising funds during the Woodward Dream Cruise  for Loretta's Love, a team for the Light the Night walk Sept. 24. EmbroidMe employees will be handing out bottled water and inviting cruiser-goers to give a donation as their thirst is quenched. Light the Night raises funds for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society.

'Vettes outlast cruise gathering spot

More than one oversize message now hangs above Woodward on Birmingham's doomed store, where a "Going Out of Business" banner is supplemented by one from a Corvette parts supplier than rents prime lawn space for a private cruise gathering each year.  

Corvette Central, a family business founded in 1974 by brand enthusiast Jerry Kohn of Sawyer, MI, will be back at its traditional spot Saturday — conveniently opposite a in the grassy triangle between Woodward and Old Woodward in Birmingham.

For the record: The bookstore, which this summer failed to emerge from bankruptcy, was founded 40 years ago in Ann Arbor. The Corvette, still going strong, was created 58 years ago by GM designers and engineers in Detroit. More than 400 Corvette owners are expected to gather at the in Bloomfield Hills on Wednesday afternoon and cruise down Woodward around 7:30 p.m. to bring donations to the Open Hands Food Pantry at in Royal Oak.

Have a cool Dream Cruise story or photo to share? Email it to  Beth.Valone@Patch.com.

 More Cruise coverage in Patch

 

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