August 17, 2014 at 11:20 pm

Dream Cruise drives off for another year

Royal Oak — Woodward Avenue seemed to age half a century overnight.

Gone were the customs and classics of Saturday’s Dream Cruise. In their stead were cars of more recent vintage.

To be sure, a few diehards continued to traverse Woodward on Sunday, showing off their colorful jalopies one more day.

And T-shirt stands were still doing a thriving business.

“We’re getting a lot of people. They’re coming in groups of 20,” said Nicole Scott, who ran a Fanatic U stand in Royal Oak.

But they were the exception on a day when shops and restaurants reclaimed their slice of the highway from Ferndale to Pontiac.

Organizers were pleased with the 20th anniversary of the auto spectacle, which was blessed with sun-dappled skies and a big turnout.

Police departments along the 16-mile route reported few problems other than citing people for open containers of alcohol.

On Saturday night, a 1965 Corvette Stingray was stolen while the owners were having a late dinner at Pita Cafe in downtown Birmingham.

As for the turnout, law enforcement agencies said they planned to release crowd estimates Monday.

Organizers said they would be shocked if the number was under 1 million.

“It was jammed from one end to the other,” said Tony Michaels, the Cruise’s executive director.

Some cruise officials had worried that flooding earlier in the week would dampen the mood.

Indeed, residents along the route in Berkley and Pleasant Ridge had turned their homes inside out, piling sofas, cabinets and other furniture in their yards to dry them out as well as mountains of garbage bags for weekend pickup.

But Michaels said the flooding seemed to have little impact on the turnout. He surmised some people may have used the Cruise as a way to escape their weather-related ordeal.

“It was as good as possible,” he said about the Cruise. “The amount of people, the weather, the cruise, the families attending, it was truly one of those great days.”

The good vibe extended to the cleanup, which was mostly done by Sunday morning.

By noon, there was little indication an event involving 40,000 cars and maybe a million people had been held just the day before.

Tents had been struck, displays disassembled, banners lowered. A few canopies with nothing under them were one of the only signs of the car extravaganza. And, of course, the remaining T-shirt stands.

While few in number, the booths did a brisk business Sunday.

Just as Scott was describing how customers seemed to arrive in groups of 20, a crowd of 13 people, coming from all directions, descended on the stand.

“I told you: 20 people,” she told a reporter.

Scott, sales manager of the Fanatic U store in Garden City, said people began showing up as soon as she and two co-workers began unloading boxes at 8 a.m. And they kept coming and coming. By noon, they had served 500 customers, she said.

Sniffing a bargain, buyers scooped up the $5 T-shirts with slogans like “Cruisin’ Woodward 2014” and “History of the Motor City.”

Polo shirts were a bit more expensive, $20. A customer offered $15 and Scott quickly agreed.

“We’re bargaining,” she said. “It was $25 yesterday.”

fdonnelly@detroitnews.com
(313) 223-4186

Workers take down the tent in the parking lot of Duggan's Restaurant on Woodward, Sunday. / Elizabeth Conley / The Detroit News
Kim Pratt folds and bags a Dream Cruise T-shirt Sunday for a customer at ... (Elizabeth Conley / The Detroit News)
Kim Pratt folds and bags a Dream Cruise T-shirt Sunday for a customer at ... (Elizabeth Conley / The Detroit News)