By Christy Strawser
CBS Detroit Managing Editor23
ROYAL OAK (CBS Detroit) Think you’ve seen all the Woodward Dream Cruise has to offer? Think again.

The cruise is back for its 18th anniversary this Saturday, Aug. 18, on its traditional loop from Ferndale to Pontiac and all spots in between, including Berkley, Royal Oak and Huntington Woods.

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And this year includes some firsts, including a family friendly foot race, new classic car-themed restaurant Vinsetta Garage on the route, and more parking for participants.

“Obviously the foot race is the biggest event that we’ve added, to make it more of a family event,” said Dream Cruise President Greg Rassel. “We’re bringing fitness into it for the first time, and believe me, once the traffic gets going, feet may be the only way you can get around.”

If early turn-out is any indication, Rassel expects traffic to be jammed on the route Saturday — which is best-case scenario for classic car aficionados, some of whom travel many miles to sit alongside Woodward Avenue with family and friends to watch a parade of Detroit muscle.

Rassel said the cruise typically draws between 500,000 and 700,000 onlookers and 40,000 cars, depending on the weather. Forecasts call for sunny skies and a high of about 75 degrees this year, which makes for perfect cruising.

“This year we’re anticipating many, many people,” he said.

The improving economy brought Chevrolet as the cruise’s major sponsor for the second year in a row, which Rassel said, “is the biggest thrill because it allows us to focus more on promoting the event rather than figuring out how to pay for everything.”

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The cruise officially kicks off Friday night with a classic car parade and street dance in downtown Berkley; Ferndale is also getting in on the early action with Friday night Ford displays, a kids’ play zone and live music; and Bloomfield Township is following the Friday night suit with “Dream Drive,” featuring rides in replicas of a Shelby Cobra, Daytona Coupe or a GT40. Get the complete schedule of events in every city HERE.

Saturday starts early with the first “Dream Cruise In Shoes,” a 5K fun run/walk at which participants are urged to arrive at Shrine at 12 Mile and Woodward in Royal Oak by 6 a.m. Runners are urged to dress up in vintage costumes and prizes will be awarded for the best looks and fastest times. Get race information HERE.

The cruise itself begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, with local restaurants and vendors ready to offer walkers and drivers special deals inside and outside on. This is the first year Vinsetta Garage, a former classic car restoration site, will be open as a restaurant. They’ll serve pulled pork sandwiches and other items from an outdoor tent.

People have been waiting in line for hours to try the menu from the creators of Union Woodshop in Clarkston, famous among other things for its barbecue and decadent macaroni and cheese — so large crowds are expected to form for “garage grub” during the cruise.

For those who want to just park, stroll and enjoy the sights, shuttle lots will be available at Memorial Park, 13 Mile and Coolidge; Shrine, at 12 Mile and Woodward; and Upton Park, west of Coolidge on Massoit. Free shuttles will head to the hub of the cruise at 13 Mile and Woodward.

Royal Oak and other local police will be a “very visible presence” throughout the cruise, Rassel said, so don’t make the same mistake many have made over the years and think the rules of public alcohol consumption are suspended during the cruise.

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“The rules are you can’t be drinking alcohol in public,” Rassel said. “Even under your own tent on public property, you’re not safe, if you’re at a restaurant that’s a different story, but if you’re just walking down the street, it’s not allowed.”