Saturday, August 15, 2009

Woodward Dream Cruise nostalgia

Today’s the day: The 15th year of The Woodward Dream Cruise. What’s that, you ask? Well, it’s pure nostalgia for those of us of a certain age. It commemorates the days in the late 50s through mid-60s when “cruising Woodward” was the place to be on summer nights.

It’s a free event; people bring their lawn chairs, tents, food and drink and just sit and watch the cars go by all day long. When they can get away with it, the cars “burn rubber” and spectators hold up numbers to vote for their favorites. It’s such a fun atmosphere and you never know what you’re going to see along the route. Woodward is not closed for the day; classic cars are supposed to stay in the right curb lane to be seen, but if you want to fight the traffic, you can drive right along in the center lanes.

Over the years it became a little more “corporate,” but since the automotive sponsors have all pulled out this year because of their economic predicaments, the Cruise has reverted back just a little to its grass roots, although car owner participation is international in scope (see below).
(Note: all quoted paragraphs are from the official website:

‘Hot rods and muscle cars. Convertibles and hard tops. Oversized tires and custom-painted flames. These marvels of machinery were cool and hot; street machines that cruised Woodward emanating vintage rock and roll from the AM radio coupled with the rumble of a big block V8.”

“The Woodward Dream Cruise is the world’s largest one-day automotive event, drawing 1.5 million people and 40,000 classic cars each year from around the globe—from as far away as New Zealand, Australia, Japan and the former Soviet Union. North American cruisers from California, Georgia, Canada and all points in between caravan to Metro Detroit to participate in what has become, for many, an annual rite of summer.”

“The Dream Cruise takes place along a 16-mile stretch of legendary Woodward Avenue through the eight host communities of Berkley, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, Ferndale, Huntington Woods, Pleasant Ridge, Pontiac and Royal Oak, in Southeast Michigan.”

“Ted's, Totem Pole and The Varsity, Hollywood, Wigwam and Suzie Q's, and, of course, Big Boy. These old-time drive-ins and restaurants that dotted Woodward Avenue were the places to see and be seen during an era remembered perhaps most famously by Hollywood in American Graffiti and Happy Days. These locations were the turnarounds, stopping points and social hangouts for the cruisers of the era.”

Truth be told, I’m hard pressed to tell one car from another, but I do recognize the 60s cars the best, and I’m still looking for that pink (!) Chevy Impala convertible that I cruised Woodward in with an old boyfriend back in the day!

Here’s some pix I took yesterday and today. Enjoy the nostalgia trip.

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