August 17, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Not everyone loves the Woodward Dream Cruise

Royal Oak — Mike Madsen's two sons have a not-so-affectionate name for the tens of thousands of classic car owners who flock to Woodward Avenue annually.

The boys, 5 and 7, call them the "Dream Losers."

"I can't say I hate the Dream Cruise because I like the cars," said Madsen, 42, who lives less than a block east of Woodward, north of 13 Mile, in Royal Oak. "What I hate is the ignorance of the people that come here because there are people who still live in these neighborhoods, and we have people racing up and down our streets.

"I'll wake up on Sunday morning and have a whole (backyard) of liquor bottles and used condoms and all sorts of nasty stuff thrown over my fence."

The Woodward Dream Cruise annually draws about 1 million visitors to a 16-mile stretch of the roadway, and many residents and businesses seem to either love it or hate it — with no median in between.

Madsen's disdain, though, has accumulated over the years. As the Cruise enters its 18th year on Saturday, the classic car event has become bigger and lasted longer. And while many fans argue it's just one day or just the week leading up to the Saturday, Madsen said he hears squealing tires and loud motors from as early as April until as late as November.

"This isn't a weeklong thing for us. This starts as soon as the snow melts," he said. "They just sit on the side of Woodward, and the funny thing is there's no cars coming, so they're watching my car go down the street basically. I don't get it."

Dream Cruise lover Mary Snyder, 68, of Clinton Township, said some folks just don't get it. Snyder's husband, Terry, said he spent every day of a four-month stretch in 1990 refurbishing their '55 Chevy that he plans to showcase again this year.

After growing up in Ferndale, Mary Snyder said having the chance to cruise Woodward is a "dream come true," which is why the couple are out every day this week.

"The people that hate them is because we're causing a traffic jam because they're beautiful and everybody looks at them — and they're jealous," she said. "I really believe they're just jealous that they don't own one."

Businesses are split on the event, too. Woodward Avenue Brewers, or the WAB, in Ferndale, normally rents its restaurant space on cruise day, and this year, it also hosted a private party on Wednesday, event coordinator Staci Hayman said. The extra cruising during the week only brings in more customers.

"For us, it's always been a busy time of year," she said. "It gives people the opportunity to come to Ferndale, and people from all over the world come. It's good for us. It showcases our beer."

Just across Nine Mile, though, the Magic Bag Theater doesn't quite see any business opportunity because, frankly, there isn't one, owner Jeremy Haberman said. The theater has opened its doors during the cruise for free movies and discounted concerts, but it has closed for the past few years because none of the events were well-attended.

While some businesses profit from the large crowds, Haberman said other small businesses suffer because many of the visitors only shop at fast food restaurants or streets vendors.

"In this business, you learn to recognize that there is a free entertainment crowd, the people who will push an old lady out of the way for a shirt at a Tigers game or wait in line 10 minutes for a free sample of Pepsi," Haberman said.

To voice his displeasure, Haberman notoriously posts sarcastic messages on the theater's marquee.

This year's winner: "Woodward Dream Cruise: Avoiding the actual Motor City since 1995."

Irish Rose Flower Shop in Royal Oak will also be closed Saturday, but co-owner Kari Bohl said she thinks of it as a vacation — and she normally closes early during the week to avoid traffic.

"We work around it as best we can, but there's no reason to be open for retail because they'd just want to use the bathroom," Bohl said. "They're here for cars; it's not a flower day."

The florist leaves its delivery van in its just-off-Woodward parking lot with hopes of attracting future customers, and Bohl said she'll block off a couple spots for herself or friends who might want to watch the cruise.

"I can see where some people would get frustrated because it closes them down," Bohl said. "Life is too short to get mad about a car show."

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While on the surface, the Woodward Dream Cruise appears to be nothing but a celebration. But some of those who live near it say it's a headache from as early as April until as late as November. / John T. Greilick / The Detroit News
The Magic Bag Theater in Ferndale pokes fun at Dream Cruisers every year ... (Magic Bag Publicity)