June 1, 2013 at 1:00 am

From the archives: Aug. 18, 2012

'It's all smiles' as 2012 Woodward Dream Cruise comes to a close

Royal Oak — That's it. Another Dream Cruise in the books.

And although the estimated 1.35 million cruisers and admirers isn't a record, Executive Director Tony Michaels was certainly impressed.

"Today was as big as it's ever been. It had to be," he said Saturday night shortly before police began shutting the event down at 9 p.m. "As you walk around and you take it all in, it's all smiles, and that is a wonderful thing."

Perfect weather, beautiful cars and happy people filled Woodward from dawn until past dusk to mark the 18th year of the event.

It was like Woodstock on wheels, but instead of hippies, we had Hemis and instead of Crosby, Stills and Nash, we had Camaros, Super Sports and Novas.

Royal Oak resident Lloyd Austin, 53, thoroughly enjoyed himself this year and was very impressed by the way it was organized.

"They did a great job of spreading it out," said Austin, 53. "The displays really make good use of their space. I liked that many of the areas had displays telling the history of the automotive industry."

Austin arrived at the cruise around noon and watched the passing parade from a spot at 13 ˝ Mile. He planned to stay until the end and was amazed at the size and the well-behaved crowd.

"It was good family entertainment, which is a blessing," he said.

In 2011 about 1 million people came to the event, but thunderstorms forced the crowd to disperse early.

The weather made for easy cruising with mostly sunny skies and a high of 76 degrees, said Bryan Tilley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in White Lake Township.

"I would say an extra layer might be a pretty good idea (tonight) as people are going to be driving around with the top down," Tilley said. "Overall it's pretty comfortable and just about ideal for outdoor activities."

Traffic on northbound Woodward between Nine Mile and 11 Mile was heavy today — a conga line of cars and motorcycles inching their way toward the action farther north.

The crowd also made it pretty easy on police with officers from Royal Oak and Ferndale reporting minimal arrests, save a few for disorderly conduct.

"The day's been going awesome," Royal Oak Police Deputy Chief Gordon Young said. "It's been a great cruise, one of our best cruises with the combination of weather and crowd size and number of arrests."

And it's not just the classics that drew crowds.

The cars and crews from Michigan's newest auto craze, the Michigan Gumball Rally, turned heads from fans in Ferndale. The second annual rally, held the weekend before the Dream Cruise, comprised of 32 vehicles traveling about 1,200 miles across the state, from Detroit to Sault St. Marie back to the Automotive Hall of Fame in Detroit.

Theresa Parker participated this year with her boyfriend Dan Elliott in her gumball-themed Stratus, which cruisers seemed to get a kick out of.

"You know you're driving the car and you forget it has gumballs all over it," said Parker. "Then you think, 'Why is everyone staring at me?'"

The Rally will also be held in Florida in January and Wisconsin in June as the group expands.

"I've had guys come up to me and say 'I'm 40 years old and that was the most fun I've ever had in my life,'" said Parker.

North in Pontiac, it was a karaoke singer that had cruisers in awe.

Lady Soul, a 57-year-old Pontiac resident, belted out "Turn Me On" by Norah Jones at a karaoke contest in Pontiac's Phoenix Center and advanced to the competition final.

Lady Soul said she's a karaoke veteran and has never sung professionally.

"It puts joy in my heart," she said. "I like people to feel what I feel."

The judges thought she was so impressive that they invited her for an encore performance— "At Last" by Etta James.

Lady Soul's son, Kenneth Betty, owns a 1979 Trans Am and said he and his mother love the variety of cars at the show.

Earlier in the morning, the attention shifted to human power, when the 5K Cruise in Shoes was held early Saturday morning on southbound Woodward just north of 13 Mile. Michaels said the run drew about 700 people, and there will definitely be another run to kicks things off next year.

Joel and Kate Walczy came for the cruising and for some exercise with their daughter Alexandra, 2.

"We ran and pushed Alexandra in a stroller," Kate said.

"It was fun and so cool to be running on Woodward."

Joel agreed: "They don't shut down Woodward for nothing," he said with a smile.

Hey, cruising is cruising, no matter what make or model. It can still be done with style.

tgreenwood@detnews.com

(313) 222-2127

Reporters Tony Briscoe, Michael Martinez and Doug Guthrie contributed to this story.

These Bel-Air cruisers wear their bunny ears. / David Coates / The Detroit News
This blue Chevy Bel-Air is named "Cathy's Clown" after an ... (David Coates / The Detroit News)