FERNDALE — The biggest weekend of the year for downtown Ferndale is only a week away, when thousands will descend on the city for the 23rd annual Woodward Dream Cruise.
The three-day festival of cars will take place Aug. 17-19 in downtown Ferndale at the intersection of Woodward Avenue and Nine Mile Road.
The cruise is highlighted by Mustang Alley, which is celebrating its 19th year on Saturday, Aug. 19, and will feature more than 700 Ford Mustangs.
To make space for all of the cars, the cruise will be expanding the alley to both sides of Woodward Avenue on Nine Mile. In years past, the alley normally ran only on the east side of Woodward along Nine Mile.
“It’s continued to grow to where, the east side, we can’t keep going east,” Event Director Michael Lary said. “There’s got to be a point where we have to decide how to make it fit, where it’s not too far from Woodward. We basically have moved the food and merchant vendors off the street so that we have more of a three-day event that’s really automotive-related.”
Mayor Dave Coulter said Ford Motor Co.’s sponsorship with Mustang Alley not only helps make Ferndale a destination during the Dream Cruise, but helps make it possible for the city to put on all of its events.
“We’re excited to have all the Mustangs in town and thrilled that Ford continues to partner with us,” he said.
Lary said there’s a plot of land adjacent to East Nine Mile at Bermuda Street where the vendors will be, but they had to be reduced by more than half.
“It’s more focused on merchandise and less on food, because we’re going to encourage more people, if they’re hungry, please support the local business restaurants,” he said.
“It’s interesting because of the whole conversation about Mustang Alley. That made us rethink how we do things and realize, ‘You know what? We need to actually make it more of what this event is about,’ and that is about the car,” Lary added.
Returning also this year will be the emergency vehicle show, the Lights & Sirens Cruise, held during the Dream Cruise ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, Aug. 18, on East Nine Mile. The event showcases a variety of ambulances, fire trucks and police vehicles. There also will be free aerial rides on the Ferndale Fire Department’s ladder truck.
A new addition to the Dream Cruise this year is a display of Mel Guthrie’s TV & movie car collection and Mongoose Pro Monster Trucks on Aug. 18 on West Nine Mile. Some of the cars on display will include the race car from “Speed Racer,” the Mystery Machine from “Scooby-Doo,” the van from “The A-Team,” and the Batmobile from the 1966 TV show.
Lary said that when mention of expanding Mustang Alley came about, there were problems with figuring out how to fill the remaining space on West Nine Mile that couldn’t be covered with vendors anymore.
“We know what’s going to happen on Saturday with Mustang Alley, but how do we fill it for Thursday and Friday so the street’s not empty?” he said. “That’s why we reached out and found the owner of the collection of TV and film cars. And then we also reached out to the company that has monster trucks.”
On Thursday, Aug. 17, Detroit Public TV will be on-site filming the second annual Dream Cruise Road Show, where classic cars will be featured. It will be hosted by automotive analyst Bob Lutz and DPTV’s Fred Nahhat.
Taking place every day will be live entertainment, featuring musicians American Band, City Beat, The Favorites, Crewsade, Full Tilt, the Bob Seger tribute band Lookin’ Back, the Beatles tribute band Shout! and the Ferndale Community Concert Band.
Coulter said the city really takes the Dream Cruise seriously, in part because it started in Ferndale. The event began in Ferndale 23 years ago to raise money for a soccer field.
“So not every town closes down its downtown and offers entertainment and food and a host of other things to do,” he said. “I think that’s part of the difference.”
“It’s unlike any event that we do, and in Ferndale we do a lot of events,” he said. “To have Woodward Avenue be the focus of something so near and dear to people’s hearts, which is classic cars, makes it unique, not just in Michigan but in the world. We get people from all over the world coming to the Dream Cruise, and I’ve met them at the event, and I can’t think of any other event that has (that) kind of appeal.”
For more information on the event, visit www.ferndaledreamcruise.com.