FERNDALE (WWJ) — Many people made the trip out to Woodward Ave. in Ferndale early, setting up their lawn chairs and classic cars before noon on Friday.
Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter cut a ceremonial ribbon which stretch across Nine Mile with a giant pair of scissors to signal the opening of the now 20-year-old event. He said that after a long week of cleaning up after Monday’s disastrous rain and floods, it was time for the city and its residents to celebrate.
“We declared a state of emergency on Tuesday and we’ve been busy all week long — cleaning basements and fixing streets and cleaning up after the devastating storm,” Coulter said. “You know — after the hard work is done — in Ferndale, we know how to party.”
The event was followed by the traditional emergency vehicle lights and sirens parade. In the parade this year was the squad car driven by fallen West Bloomfield Police officer Patrick O’Rourke. His father Dan bought the car from the police department and had it restored.
“I bought it to have kind of a physical connection with my son, something that the family could have to remember him and to pay tribute to all of the officers who went to work one day and never came home,” O’Rourke said.
Even though the cruise stretches across the weekend, many people believe that Friday is the day to be there.
“I like Friday because there’s more hot rods than everyday cars,” one cruiser said. “But I like everyday people coming out here and seeing them too.”
Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard said that the cruise reminds him of when he first learned to drive and said that he grew up just a few blocks from Woodward.
“When you get your first car it’s like, you know, being given freedom,” Bouchard said. “You feel so empowered — you can go anywhere. The first car I ever drove was a Camaro, but it was a used one. A gearhead had put a 427 Corvette engine in it.”
Bouchard said that even though the cruise is mostly fun and games for the participants and spectators, the county has a hefty amount of logistics to tackle every year.
“The cruise runs from the county border all the way through the loop in Pontiac,” Bouchard said. “We’re going to have more than 200 deputies out and involved in this activity.”
Ferndale might have started the Dream Cruise, but it’s certainly not the epicenter — that mantle belongs to Royal Oak. According to Ferndale Police Chief Timothy Collins, the city presents a unique and relaxed view of the classic cars.
“Ferndale, for whatever reason, we have permission for folks to be up on the median,” “I don’t think anyone else Woodward allows folks in the median, but we do. We have restriction obviously — there’s no alcohol. There’s no alcohol anywhere in public spaces.”
Chief Collins said that there hasn’t been any major incident during a Dream Cruise in the city and that the worst year might have been when someone stole a police golf cart.
The Dream Cruise runs from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Saturday from Ferndale to Pontiac and features an estimated 40,000 classic cars.