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Woodward Dream Cruise a Nightmare for Some

Residents and business owners who are fed up with the event and the activity that precedes it sound off on Facebook.

The Woodward Dream Cruise is expected to attract 1.5 million people to a 16-mile stretch of the historic avenue this Saturday – with the build-up stretching out for days, weeks and months in advance – creating a nightmare of gridlock and noise that has inspired some residents and businesses along the route to voice their disdain on Facebook.

Many of those who take issue with the classic car parade on social media say they soured on the event once it began to affect their qualilty of life beyond just the day of the cruise.

The Cruisers Go Home page created by Pleasant Ridge resident Jeanne Ruzzin, for example, had nearly 200 likes Tuesday and lively conversation.

  • Kim Johnson of Royal Oak: "I am over a mile away from Woodward and can hear all the motorcycles – feel bad for those who live closer."
  • Michelle McFarland, owner of in Berkley: "I'm also a Woodward Ave. merchant and it's insane. We get in fights every year with cruisers the week of."
  • Chris Pullen of Ferndale: "I didn't plan anything so I may have to hole up in my house as if there were a snowstorm or something."

Ruzzin said it's not the Dream Cruise that she and her neighbors along the historic avenue object to, but the fact that cruising seems to start earlier each year and have a greater impact on life along Woodward.

"I was around for the first cruise (in 1995)," she said. "I (lived one block off Woodward in Ferndale). I was all for it; it had a grass-roots feel. When I became against it was when it spread to a week or 2 weeks."

In , 27 percent of respondents said cruising should begin the week before the classic car parade and 27 percent said cruising should only occur that day.

Readers also sounded off Tuesday on the Berkley Patch Facebook page:

  • Lori Schoessler-Robertson: "Stock up on groceries and gas early because Friday and Saturday you're basically trapped in your house for the weekend if you live anywhere near Woodward! I wouldn't mind it as much IF the 'cruisers' wouldn't block the intersections on Woodward. We should be able to cross at any light (12 Mile/Catalpa/11 Mile, etc). I always pray I don't have an emergency this weekend because getting to the hospital would be a nightmare."
  • Eliana Loomer: ‎"I feel the Dream Cruise wouldn't be so bad if it was only the weekend. However the ENTIRE week before people are clogging up Woodward. I would totally love the cruise if the cruisers were more considerate."

Unfortunately for residents who resent the pre-parade activity, there are no rules that prohibit it.

"People can drive whenever they want," Deputy Director Robert North said. "There's nothing that says you can't drive up and down Woodward Avenue as long as you're obeying the law."

That means no speeding, no squealing of tires, no jaywalking, no setting up lawn chairs in the median and no alcohol outside of designated areas such as bars, restaurants and permitted party zones.

Greg Rassel, the Woodward Dream Cruise representative for Royal Oak, said the organization is not insensitive to what neighbors endure and doesn't do anything to encourage cruising earlier in the week.

"Our goal is to put on a safe, fun, family event and minimize the inconvenience," he said. "We appreciate the patience of those who live near Woodward and put up with the crowds."

"I want people to have fun. I just don't think they have the right to disrupt my life for a week." – Pleasant Ridge resident Jeanne Ruzzin

Ruzzin said the week before the cruise she has had a hard time getting to merchants along Woodward Avenue and her doctor's office and gym have closed early due to pre-cruise traffic and parking congestion.

"I feel like I should be able to go to my gym and grocery shop and that shouldn't be problematic for a week," she said. "I want people to have fun. I just don't think they have the right to disrupt my life for a week."

Even staying home the week before the cruise is a headache, she said, because of cruisers who rumble down side streets and news helicopters that buzz overhead.

Ruzzin, who used to commute from Ferndale to Birmingham for work, said it could take her 45 minutes to get home during the week before the Dream Cruise and the journey was "perilous."

She cited the following safety concerns:

  • the sheer volume of traffic.
  • drivers who aren't familiar with the area darting across lanes to reach turnarounds.
  • spectators sitting too close to the road in lawn chairs and impeding traffic at intersections.
  • access to Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.

Besides her safety concerns, Ruzzin took issue with the event's expense.

The bill for portable toilets, police overtime and labor to erect barricades costs taxpayers in the nine participating communities – Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Huntington Woods, Berkley, Royal Oak, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township and Pontiac – is an estimated $600,000, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Ruzzin said she'd like to see cities along the route pass ordinances that prohibit parking lots from being rented out before Friday.

"Let David bust some chops. Goliath will have his day on Saturday." – Magic Bag owner Jeremy Haberman

The Magic Bag in Ferndale, which holds  to put on its marquee during the event, echoed Ruzzin's sentiments.

Magic Bag owner Jeremy Haberman said that, over the years, the venue has tried a variety of ways to capitalize on the event – including booking Bo Diddley; renting out the space; and offering free movies, rockabilly shows and Beatles tribute concerts – without success.

"We realize that many residents and business owners located near the Dream Cruise are forced to flee the area, so the Magic Bag slogan contest has become a chance for them to have their voices heard," a Magic Bag press release said.

The venue also has poked fun at the Dream Cruise on its Facebook page, drawing the ire of the classic car parade's supporters.

"We’re just trying to have some good, dirty, fun here," read a post Tuesday on The Magic Bag page. "So please don’t take it or yourselves so seriously. We’re trying to speak for the residents and small business owners who are forced to close or relocate for well beyond this supposed one day event.

"Let David bust some chops. Goliath will have his day on Saturday," the post said. "In the meantime, perhaps we can persuade the powers that be to restrict cruisers to one day and/or move the event to Labor Day weekend so that two weekends don’t need to be crippled."

One or two days of cruising would suit Ruzzin just fine.

"Come Friday if you must. Come Saturday, I'll deal with it," she said. "The rest of the time, stay home."

Carrie Burgan August 15, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Move the event to Labor Day Weekend? With Arts Beats and Eats in Royal Oak each Labor Day Weekend that is equivalent to business (and resident) suicide. Have fun with that. (Or maybe let's just cancel both...)
Virginia August 15, 2012 at 12:44 PM
You know, I think most cruisers would be happy with a couple of days of cruising, if you could ACTUALLY DRIVE ON FRIDAY AND SATURDAY But you can't. It takes hours to go a few miles and many of those older cars are less than fun to drive--they overheat, they have manual transmissions, no AC. And it's not the cruisers that clog the roads so much as the tourists in minivans and SUVs blocking everyone else's view It is smarter to find a place alongside the road to watch from. If you are in traffic, you will only see those cars around you as they are all moving at the same pace. But good luck with that.
Kristi Corrigan-Troup August 15, 2012 at 12:51 PM
I totally respect and enjoy that people are having a great time and showing off their Mo-Town muscle. Love the metal too! However, being 2 blocks off Woodward near the heart of the mess is AWFUL. Totally agree with the person who advocated keeping intersections open. Royal Oak / Berkley / Ferndale - is this possible??
Cathi White August 15, 2012 at 01:01 PM
The WEEK before? I live at 13 & Woodward and cruising goes on the whole summer here. I cruised WW as a teenager, and while I definitely can hear the car noise at night, it does quiet down by 10:00 and gives me fond memories of my cruising days. Lighten up everyone. It's just a bunch of overgrown teens having a little summer fun with their cars. This IS the motor city after all....
ALEX The Librarian & Skater:ALEX August 15, 2012 at 01:08 PM
The cruising and loitering starts in March. It is too much. One weekend in August in fine and fun but starting in March is toooooooooooooooooo much!!
Leslie Ellis August 15, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Greg Rassel, the Woodward Dream Cruise representative for Royal Oak, said the event originally was scheduled to avoid overlapping with Labor Day weekend, which 18 years ago included the Michigan State Fair. "After 18 years, it's sort of become ingrained that it's the third Saturday in August," he said. Logistically, he added, Royal Oak would not be able to accommodate Arts Beats & Eats and the Woodward Dream Cruise on the same weekend, due to the scale of both events.
Alan Stamm August 15, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Fumes, jams and 11 p.m. burnouts aren't my idea of summer serenity either, but I appreciate the historic byway 3 blocks from home and its annual appeal as a destination draw. We're hosts, after all, and should try to be gracious -- not cranky curmudgeons. "It provides an opportunity for us to make a good impression on people coming here who may have heard all the negatives about plant closings and challenges to the auto industry," a Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau exec tells The Detroit News today. The cruise will generate about $56 million for local businesses, he adds. [ http://bit.ly/SmqmFU ] So don't be haters, neighbors. Our guests are leaving soon.
Brad Ather III August 15, 2012 at 01:20 PM
I don't mind it that much. Traffic has been a little full after 5pm though, so for commuters it sucks that your ride home can almost double or triple, even to get as far as say, 15mile to 10mile. I've taken to taking alternatives, and that's fine for the week of. But what needs to happen is police/fire/ambulance have to have a safety route backup plan for any ambulance that needs to cross 13 Mile or get to Beaumont. There needs to be a strict plan for that. If people are blocking 13 Mile, how will an ambulance get across? Second thing is how disrespectful people are, who may or may not be residents of the area, to people trying to cross over woodward, or drive around the event. They don't watch the lights, they don't look for the cross walk signs, they just go where they want, and they don't always let you cross the road when you try to cross woodward. They just keep walking at the cross roads. Pay attention and please be respectful of people trying to cross woodward.
Harry Bissell August 15, 2012 at 01:24 PM
I call it the "demon cruise". I object to all the intersection closings and the additional time spent just trying to enter and leave my own property. I object to the money spent on supporting the event. Most Royal Oak businesses do not benefit at all from the cruise. Cruising was something that kids did in the fifties, a small number of people having fun. The "Dream" cruise is a bunch of old folk yearning for the youth they probably never had in cars they never would have been able to afford. They should spend some of their money on therapy and get past it...
Laura Van Almen August 15, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Observation: The majority of the folks loitering around the Dream Cruise seem to be Caucasian Male and over say 45. Question: Would police/residents/business owners allow non-whites to hold up in parking lots, street corners and curbsides if they wanted???? I wonder if these folks who choose to spend their time in a lawn chair on the edge of Woodward were primarily African-American, Hispanic or Muslim would the communities be so laid back about interrupting business and daily lives. What if the majority of the folks hanging out in the parking lot at Campbell and Woodward were a group of Oakland County Homeless? Would it be ok with everyone if they set up some housekeeping? Let’s wonder if an enormous group of seedy looking teenagers decided to meander up and down Woodward day in and day out. Would the masses think that’s ok? This open ticket to congregate and loiter from May to September is ridiculous. No other group of people would be allowed to do the same. By the way: I am a 42 year old, Caucasian Woman
JH August 15, 2012 at 01:57 PM
I don't think this is (or needs to be) a race issue. I think the public opinion of the congregating people is based on their behavior and problems they cause, regardless of race or religion. Business owners can, of course, kick people off their property as they see fit. FYI, I am not a caucasian male over 45 either.
Don Wyatt (Editor) August 15, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Great perspective on the Dream Cruise. There have been ideas in the past of turning Woodward into a toll road of sorts, charging cruisers a "fee" to run up and down the road. A city councilor in Royal Oak first proposed this a few years ago as a way for cities to recoup their costs for providing police and other services. How could that work? And would it make any sense to do it?
JH August 15, 2012 at 03:22 PM
I don't think the Dream Cruise is organized enough for this to be effective. This idea isn't much better, but I think it is slightly more feasible to charge the event organizers (haha, right?) for the increased police costs & they could do a fundraiser among cruisers and fans to pay for it. I think this would be more easily implemented than charging the individual cruisers, but still near impossible.
Kevin Moser August 15, 2012 at 04:01 PM
A cruiser would probably tell you they pay for the right to be on that street as it is without having to be charged extra and I would tend to agree with them. Maybe charge out of state cruisers? but then they probably would not show up and spend money for hotels, meals etc. To try and not have the event would probably lead to bigger problems for cities as people would go out and cruise anyways. Then we would have problems with police and cruisers clashing. Best to grin and bare it as far as I am concerned.
Harry Bissell August 15, 2012 at 05:55 PM
How about this idea: Any cruisers left in the intersection get a ticket for obstructing traffic, just like any other citizen would... Bet that would generate enough revenue to cover the event costs, and make local residents not hate the cruise so much !
Susan Love August 16, 2012 at 03:54 PM
The cruisers are bad enough, but the spectators are worse. Drivers who want to cruise Woodward any time of year, well, that's what cruising is. It's the people who are already sitting out along the street in their lawn chairs, with drinks and snacks and umbrellas, a full week before the cruise that get me. And especially when it gets close to the official day, pedestrians seem to think good sense and the rules of the road no longer apply to them. If you're just trying to get ACROSS Woodward in a car, it's hard enough, but when hordes of pedestrians are crossing against the light, as if the street were blocked off just for their enjoyment, it's enough to make anybody crazy. Please, spectators, remember: Woodward is a working and very busy thoroughfare and you can't cross wherever and whenever you please. And if you decide to do it and I come close to hitting you with my car, please don't give ME the dirty look.
Susan Love August 16, 2012 at 03:58 PM
You are right on the money about the pedestrians, Brad. The powers that be seem to be getting better at regulating the traffic, but the spectators are another story. They don't seem to understand (or care might be a better word) that, in spite of the cruise, Woodward is still a busy main road and it's not closed off or reserved only for cruise traffic. I'm surprised there aren't more spectator injuries.
Ronald Wolf August 16, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Laura I have fifty dollars riding on that you voted for Palin and MCain in the last election. Any comment? PS you probably right that the police would be the first to respond to that kind of "situation".
Carol Jewell August 17, 2012 at 10:06 AM
I couldn't have said it better, Alan.
JH August 17, 2012 at 02:04 PM
I like this idea. I am a big car fan, but not being able to cross Woodward is a problem - especially considering there is a fire department at Woodward & 13 and Beaumont is just down 13 mile west of Woodward... this is a public safety issue & intersections should not be blocked.

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