Detroit community leaders say no to Woodward Dream Cruise events

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Sandon Voelker

Michael Lary held out hope, but the community events surrounding the 2020 Woodward Dream Cruise will not be held as planned. The Cruise itself? That’s another matter entirely.

“Is the Woodward Dream Cruise canceled?” the Dream Cruise board president asked, repeating the question. “We plan events around the Cruise, not the other way around. So if people want to cruise, they’ll cruise—and I’m sure they will. But the community events surrounding the Cruise, those are canceled.”

Several Detroit-area communities along Woodward Avenue announced that they will not hold cruise-related activities on August 15, the scheduled date of the event. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the health risks are just too high.

“We’re making a decision for hundreds of thousands of people,” Lary told the Free Press. “But we’re doing it for the right reason.”

Nine cities take part in the Cruise each year. Earlier this week, Birmingham community leaders voted 7-0 in favor of a resolution to cancel the event, and Huntington Woods leaders followed suit with a 5-0 vote. Ferndale will discuss the issue next week, and Lary is the city’s events manager.

On May 1, Lary told Hagerty that canceling events surrounding the Dream Cruise would be a hasty decision, and he had hoped to wait until the end of June before announcing changes. It appears, however, that the decision is being made for him.

“Trust me, this is one of those things you lose sleep over at night,” Lary said three weeks ago. “We don’t want to rush into a decision that will disappoint enthusiasts, nor one that will make promises we can’t deliver.”

Earlier today he told the Free Press, “Believe me, I’m not happy”—but, as Lary clarified to Hagerty, he intended that phrase to communicate his disappointment.

“A lot of car events and festivals are being wiped out this year, obviously because of the coronavirus,” Lary says. “You don’t want to be the one that goes ahead with it and then something [negative] happens. We need to respect each other’s space.”

Lary isn’t alone in his disappointment that the Cruise won’t be the full-blown event it usually is. However, as the Free Press reported, many businesses and homeowners on Woodward are thrilled to see Dream Cruise events canceled because of all the noise and congestion that comes with them—and not just on the day of the event, but during the week leading up to it.

The Woodward Dream Cruise, which was first held in 1995 as a small fundraiser in Ferndale, bills itself as “the world’s largest one-day celebration of classic car culture.” Under normal circumstances, it attracts upwards of 1.5 million visitors annually and more than 40,000 vehicles from the U.S. and around the world.

According to the Free Press, Birmingham City Manager Joe Valentine said a message needs to be sent “to tell people from outside Detroit and Michigan not to come.” Birmingham Police Chief Mark Clemence added, “There’s not a single police chief along the Dream Cruise route that wants this to take place.”

The reality is, as Lary predicted in our May 1 interview, diehards will still flock to Woodward—a public road—on August 15. “Cruisers are going to cruise,” he said then, and he hasn’t changed his tune. “You could say we’re going retro. The Cruise will be like it used to be.”

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