Live from Woodward: Cruisers Return Despite Official Cruise Closing

Woodward Avenue has reopened after a thunderstorm that rolled through the area Saturday, downing wires and trees, forced a brief closure.

The Woodward Dream Cruise is in high gear through Patch communities along Woodward, from Ferndale to Bloomfield Township. Come along with us as we live blog and link to coverage throughout our sites.

Fans of the Woodward Dream Cruise weren't deterred by , as hundreds of cruise fans packed the sides of Woodward Avenue Saturday night in Birmingham, watching the increasing number of cars still cruising despite the official closure of the Dream Cruise.

10:03 p.m.: Approximately 60,000 DTE customers lost power after Saturday's severe weather, spokesman Alejandro Bodipo-Memba said, adding that Clawson and Royal Oak were among the hardest-hit areas. He said the company hopes to have most customers' power restored by Sunday morning. "We'll have crews working throughout the night," he said.

8:45 p.m.: "We're hoping to get the majority of folks back up tomorrow morning," DTE spokesman Alejandro Bodipo-Memba said. "That doesn't mean everybody, but the majority." He cautioned residents to stay at least 20 feet away from downed power lines and anything with which they come in contact and to report downed wires immediately by calling 800-477-4747. "We want everybody to be safe," he said.

8 p.m., Royal Oak: A half-dozen police officers on motorcycles were adamant in urging cruisegoers to "go home," moving systematically through the parking lots south of Normandy in Royal Oak. People were not listening.

7:52 p.m., Birmingham: Cruisers were back on Woodward and the cruise fans were back in chairs, under tents and in grandstands, albeit fewer of them than before the storm. 

7:13 p.m.: While Woodward Avenue has reopened to traffic, the Dream Cruise has officially ended. "If you make your way back to #Woodward please be careful as several neighborhoods are without power & trees are down!" read a Tweet on the Woodward Dream Cruise account shortly after 7 p.m.

6:55 p.m.: "Systemwide, we've had about 48,000 outages across our service area," DTE spokesman Alejandro Bodipo-Memba said. "Oakland County, western Wayne, Lapeer, Washtenaw and several other areas were hit hard. Primarily, we're dealing with downed wires. I do understand there were several wires downed on or near Woodward." DTE has crews out assessing the damage and can't yet say when power will be restored, Bodipo-Memba said.

6:23 p.m.: According to DTE Energy's outage map, more than 11,000 customers lost power during Saturday's storm along the Woodward Dream Cruise route, with Royal Oak being the hardest hit:

Bloomfield Hills: 2,476 customers without power

Birmingham: 956 customers without power

Royal Oak: 7,081 customers without power

Berkley: 410 customers without power

Huntington Woods: One customer without power

Ferndale: 208 customers without power

6 p.m: Organizers began a shutdown of the Dream Cruise three hours early after storms left extensive damage and power outages throughout Oakland County, mostly in Birmingham and Royal Oak. 

4:40 p.m., Royal Oak: People are packing up their chairs and Fire Department officials are warning cruisegoers of potentially severe weather. In Memorial Park, cruisers are concerned about word of possible hail — not a friend to classic cars.  

We are going to pretend it's not starting to rain and introduce you to some of the people we met today out watching the cars. Take , for instance. They were sitting in the median of Woodward in Ferndale this afternoon, under a tree, in their lawn chairs, watching cars. But Meyers was wearing a too-small-for-his-head cap with brightly colored flowers printed on it. His lady friend, Hagel, was wearing pineapple-shaped glasses with a yellow tint. You can't pass by these two without asking them what's up.

"I like to go to the dollar store down here," Meyers said. "I get these things. Everything is a dollar. You can't go wrong for a dollar."

4:36 p.m., Royal Oak: . That's right. Pretty darn certain that you'll be wet if you are on Woodward in the next hour or two. 

4:25 p.m, Bloomfield Township: Umbrellas that were being used for shade for most of the day were needed to block the first wave of raindrops on Woodward Dream Cruise 2011. 

4 p.m., Birmingham: With , America’s between the two entities in Birmingham. Former Corvette Club President Tom Psillas said club members have come to Borders during the Woodward Dream Cruise since 2002 to show off their cars and enjoy one another's company, but he isn't sure what the future holds when Borders is gone. “We’re going to miss it," he said. "We might move to a new location next year or we might stay, but we don’t know yet,” he said.

3:39 p.m., Bloomfield Hills: Some people are starting to pack up and leave Woodward. Some say it's simply been a long day, others are worried about reports that storms are heading our way.

While others kick back and relax and enjoy the show, this Birmingham resident scours the historic avenue for recyclables in hopes of making several hundred dollars Saturday.

3:27 p.m., Bloomfield Hills: Storm clouds are brewing, but traffic hasn't been as heavy as it is now in Bloomfield all day.

 in Birmingham

The Woodward Dream Cruise got off to a fast start in the morning as crowds filled Old Woodward Avenue and lined Woodward Avenue to see the classic vehicles and line up to see the Food Network star of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.

"We do see a lot of spur-of-the-moment tattoos, people who just want to say they did it at the Dream Cruise," said Jennifer Elliott, who owns American Pride Tattoo in Berkley, which was offering special deals Saturday.

Outdoor tents that dot the front yards of a Royal Oak street nearly rival those on Woodward. It appears that most houses are having a party on the stretch road between Woodward and Coolidge.

Metro Detroiters relive an era gone by in photos taken with murals depicting three historic diners on Woodward Avenue. 

Richard Mamyek said he bought his 1967 Buick Wildcat because it was the first car his wife owned when she graduated from high school.

Classic car owners come from all over the world to share their passion at the Woodward Dream Cruise.

The Food Network host and chef signs autographs and poses with fans Saturday afternoon at the Chevrolet display.

Walk along Woodward Avenue on Saturday, and you know you'll see cars; that's a given. And lots of people. But that's where the expected ends. If you are lucky, you might see rare classic cars, souped-up monster trucks, women in poodle skirts, dogs dressed up like Elvis or a Chevy Chevette. It could happen.  

What is the most interesting vehicle, person or display you have seen this week? Tell us

Not so far off the beaten path, the city's restaurants and shops offer a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of the carfest.

1:45 p.m. The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for Oakland County until 9 p.m. It's not a warning, it's a watch. So far, we haven't felt any rain, and the cruisers don't seem to be deterred by the graying skies.

Classic car owners come from all over the world to share their passion at the Woodward Dream Cruise. All makes and models of classic cars can be found on Woodward Avenue this week, with license plates from California and Colorado to New York and Pennsylvania. Even our friends from Canada cruise over for the world's largest one-day car event. Meet some of the folks who travel to be here.

Originally used as a temperature blow-off unit — if the radiator got too hot, it would pop off to release pressure — the first hood ornaments were actually thermometers, letting the driver know how hot the engine was getting. Today, those same thermometers are a collector's dream.

1 p.m., Royal Oak: Jacob Patterson, 16, of Warren marked his spot at 13 Mile and Woodward at 5 a.m. today, then pulled out his sign, which says "Honk if you got Muscle." At 10 a.m., he was grumbling about the number of cars on Woodward. By 11 a.m., he was satisfied.

12:30 p.m.. Bloomfield Hills: parked near Mercedes-Benz of Bloomfield Hills — 15 of them, all part of DeLorean clubs from Detroit and Ohio. "This is my first time here and it's just awesome," said Josh Quellhorst, who drove his DeLorean from Worthington, OH, to participate in the Dream Cruise.    Byron Cancelmo of West Bloomfield has owned his 1981 Delorean for 30 years.

12:15 p.m., Royal Oak: Brett Brainerd, 24, is going to try to pay off some student loans with money he earns parking cars at the Allergy and Asthma Associates medical office building on 13 Mile. His mother, Betty, works at the office, which is normally open on Saturdays but closes for the Dream Cruise.

"We've had a couple of patients show up today looking for allergy relief," Betty said. "You can put out signs and put things on a website, and some people will still miss it."

Betty's boss gave her permission to do the fundraising, and she is grateful. Her son has four years of college bills. That's a lot of parked cars!

Snippets from Birmingham: From cars to Guy Fieri

  • 11:25 a.m.: A whimsical menagerie of inanimate pets is part of the cruise, with stuffed, blown-up or plastic creatures sitting alongside drivers, perched on roofs, jutting from trunks or positioned with parked vehicles. John Edmunds of Commerce Township showed his sense of humor by placing a molded plastic dog — with a leg lifted in a familiar pose — next to a front wheel of his 1986 limited-edition McLaren. The car was made by Automotive Specialty Corp. of Livonia, a small manufacturer that's not around now.
  • 10:35 a.m.: Ned's TravelBurger, a 4-month-old business on wheels, is making its debut at to cater a real state developer's party. Partners Scott Steigerwald of Birmingham and Carl Patron of Sylvan Lake are polishing counters and preparing to grill hundreds of burgers alongside a 1946 Airstream Spartan Manor, an early RV. Patron expanded the kitchen, which now includes a deep-fryer. They'll ask city commissioners for a street vending permit to become the city's first food truck. "Once they see this trailer, we should be OK," Steigerwald said optimistically. Ned's is named after co-owner Patron's 10-year-old son.
  • 10:10 a.m.: Boy Scouts from Troop 192 in Davisburg are selling $3 and $5 bags of Kettle Korn to raise money for camping trips. "This is the first year we've tried this," said Jill Haury, whose 19-year-old son, Justin, is an Eagle Scout. With a red trailer that usually hauls tents, canopies and grills, they're just below Peabody's restaurant on southbound Woodward.
  • 9:55 a.m.: Sixteen adults and children are lined up to meet spiky-haired Food Network cable host Guy Fieri, who isn't due for another hour. "I like seeing all the places he goes," said Meghan Balon, an Orion Township teen standing with her dad, Michael, a Volt battery system engineer for General Motors. "It gives us options when we travel." 

Even though there's still work to be done on their 1930 Ford Model A Tudor Sedan, Dave and Kathy Harkonen are all about the "ca-ruise-ing" today with friends, children, grandchildren and even their Yorkie.

"Nowadays, we don’t do so much racing, but on Saturday, Cruise day, we just cruise and enjoy all the smiling faces from old and young alike as they see our Model A. They tell us to "light 'em up" or "ahooga that horn," which puts a big smile on the little ones’ faces. We wave to all the photographers and news cameras. It’s just pure fun and great memories."

11:35 a.m., Bloomfield Township: Jeff Riger of WXYT, 97.1 FM the Ticket, is hosting his radio show live Saturday afternoon from the parking lot of the dealership in Bloomfield Hills as part of the Visitors can hobnob with the 97.1 Ticket Chicks and register to win a CanAm Spider autographed by former Detroit Red Wing Darren McCarty. You can register online as well.

11:20 a.m., Royal Oak: Gina Odren of Fraser and her three children — Ethan, 6, Aiden, 5, and 2-year-old Evan — were having a great time curbside in front of the Normandy Plaza in Royal Oak. The older boys were flashing signs at traffic saying "Honk please," "Go Hotrods" and "Rev," to the delight of passing drivers happy to oblige. Odren said the family has been attending the Dream Cruise since the children were very little. They got their great spot about 9:45 a.m. today. "Usually, Daddy is with us. Dad's at a golf outing this year," she said.

11:08 a.m., Bloomfield Township: The Lahser High School football team is serving up refreshments and food at the at . In addition to raising money for the team, it's a great bonding opportunity for the players, said coach Dan Loria. The Bloomfield car event lasts till 5 p.m today.

10:30 a.m., Birmingham: south of the 555 building at the intersection of South Old Woodward and Woodward Saturday morning. The display stretches all the way to Lincoln and will include hundreds of classic and new Chevy cars.

The display will include:

  • Historic Chevrolets from the General Motors Heritage Center
  • Classic Chevrolets from the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s owned by GM employees, picked specifically for the Dream Cruise at the UAW-GM Car Show on July 27  
  • Current Chevrolets models, including Camaro, Corvette, the new Volt and Sonic
  • Chevrolet vehicles from the Transformers movies
  • A Volt lounge
  • A collection for Cell Phones for Soldiers

Guy Fieri, Food Network host and chef, will be .

Sterling Heights resident Dan Knoblock's 1975 Bricklin, , is one of fewer than 2,900 that were made during the 1970s. Malcolm Bricklin (who  founded Subaru of America) built it to be a safe sports car –  the first car to have front and rear bumpers. He's been out on Woodward every day all week, and has been coming to the cruise since 2001.

10:30 a.m., near Rochester Hills: Eastbound traffic on M-59 is traveling about as slow as the Woodward Dream Cruise itself. Are people trying to avoid the chaos? Or is the ongoing road work (one lane closed in each direction) slowing the pack?

Marianne Peggie of Troy, co-founder of the Chicks With Classics car club, has been driving her 1961 Thunderbird convertible in the Woodward Dream Cruise since the very first one. "I drive this beauty as much as I can, and I love to be out at the Dream Cruise," Peggie said. There are more 80 women involved in the club, and most can be seen cruisin’ Woodward Avenue. Others, such as Lucy DiNardo of Pittsburgh, simply love the classics. She drove her 1956 Dodge Coronet to the Dream Cruise all the way from the Steel City. This is her third year at the cruise.

9:40 a.m., Ferndale: It's , where hundreds of 'stangs are on display in Mustang Alley, and early-morning cruisers were already all over the pony cars. More than 700 Mustangs can be ogled on East Nine Mile between Woodward and Hilton.

9:30 a.m., Bloomfield Township: Still plenty of parking available at the Bloomfield Township Classic Car Show; just follow the signs. Spaces cost $5, which benefits the Bloomfield Township Police benevolent fund.


Jan and Kerry Borgne of Birmingham were up plenty early and ready for the Dream Cruise this morning with their 1963 Chevrolet Corvair Spyder, which they've had for 10 years. Jan said they have been participating in the Birmingham Cruise since its inception three years ago, and they enjoy decking out their car especially for the event.

For this Dream Cruise, the couple had a stuffed gorilla riding in the backseat, a toy spider in the back (with Spider-Man sitting atop), and a drive-in tray attached to the driver's side door. A mock drive-in speaker sat next to the car on South Old Woodward, completing the retro scene.

9:12 a.m.: No surprise, the corner of 13 Mile and Woodward is packed already. The spectators finally have something to watch as the classics and hot rods have taken to Woodward. Traffic is building at the intersection but not jammed yet. People are fueling up at Starbucks — where the staff might have had just a little too much coffee already — and scoping out all there is to see and do. It's tent city on the curbs, too — smart on this sunny, warm day.

9 a.m.: It's official. The cruise is on!

8:30 a.m, Birmingham: The bleachers are set up, tents are popping up and folks are staking their claim to a spot in downtown Birmingham. Traveling south from Square Lake past Maple, one thing was clear: Plenty of early-bird cruisers are out and taking advantage of the relatively open road to gun their engines and take full advantage of the higher speed limits farther north. Not much 20 mph driving going on out that way.

8 a.m.: We don't want to rain on the Dream Cruise parade, but if you are heading out to see the big show today — more than 1 million people and 40,000 cars are expected — it's probably a safer bet to go earlier than later. The weather forecast calls for mostly sunny skies with a high near 85 with a 50 percent chance of scattered showers and thunderstorms possible after 3 p.m., mainly between 8 p.m.-midnight. 

7 a.m., Royal Oak: The news helicopters, buzzing overhead since at least 6:30 a.m., are waking up the neighborhoods along the 16-mile-long Woodward Dream Cruise route as cruisers, spectators, vendors and businesses gear up for what looks like is going to be a beautiful day.

6 a.m., Birmingham: Now here's a sight you don't see during the Woodward Dream Cruise: a deserted Woodward Avenue. Woodward was empty around 6 a.m. Saturday — the calm before the storm of hot rods and classics take to the streets.

Stay with Patch for continued complete coverage of the Woodward Dream Cruise.

Patch editors Art Aisner, Laura Houser, Terry Parris Jr., Judy Davids, Leslie Ellis, Nicquel Terry, Tim Rath, Beth Valone, Kristin Bull, Nancy Hanus and Kevin Elliott contributed to this blog. Patch freelancers Terri Williams and Alan Stamm contributed as well.

Mark Houston August 20, 2011 at 10:56 PM
Just upload a whole bunch of Interactive Panoramas of the Dream Cruise, most shot in Ferndale, http://www.360michigan.net/?p=634
Nancy Hanus August 21, 2011 at 02:49 AM
Wow, Mark. These are really, really cool photos. Thanks for letting everyone know about them. They make you feel like you are right there.
Mark Blackwell August 21, 2011 at 02:53 AM
Top Notch, Mark! I can't stop looking at these! I hope the city buys these from you, these would be excellent website additions to the Ferndale DDA stuff.


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