The Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise bills itself as the largest single-day cruise of classic cars in the world. This year organizers canceled the event as the communities it drives through were (rightly) concerned that the 40,000 cars and one million people attending were a COVID risk. Not concerned: the local GOP, which will cruise anyway.
The Dream Cruise really is some of the most brilliant traffic you’ve ever seen. It’s also asses-to-elbows crowded at the best viewing spots every year as people navigate the incredibly narrow sidewalks lining the eight-lane road to get close to the slow-speed action. This was not an area designed around pedestrian needs and definitely not social distancing guidelines. Parking lots are narrow, and while you can always camp out on the grassy dividers between north and southbound traffic, they are surprisingly sloped in most places, plus you have to actually get to them first. Crosswalks are so few along Woodward that they become choke points. It seems like you’d have miles of space to stretch out, but there really is no way to avoid the crowds.
Because it also takes a lot of unsanitary infrastructure to throw the Cruise (think porta-potties and eating out of food stands) organizers canceled the 26th annual cruise back on July 29. Six of the communities that the Dream Cruise runs through were dead set against the event going on, according to the Detroit Free Press:
The Woodward Dream Cruise board voted Monday to cancel the annual summer car event that attracts more than 1 million people.
“Our concern is the public who wants to come out and watch the cruisers who cruise. We’re concerned about social distancing and being considerate enough to wear face masks,” said Michael Lary, director of special events for the city of Ferndale and president of Woodward Dream Cruise Inc.
“I think the message here, it’s not just about the Woodward Dream Cruise,” Lary said. “Since this pandemic began, unfortunately, many events have been canceled because of the concerns of COVID-19. The nine communities that comprise the Woodward Dream Cruise route, the leadership, they have a responsibility to the public, to their constituents, to the people who live in those communities.”
The Woodward Dream Cruise board decided to adhere to the wishes of the communities that the cruise flows—a sensible and respectful move. These are the people who put up with this insane event taking over the main drag of their communities each year with grace and good humor. Surely they deserve a break during the worst pandemic in living memory.
But what if you still want to cruise? There’s nothing stopping you from repeatedly driving up and down Woodward. So now the Oakland County GOP is organizing the MAGA Classic Car Cruise, an unofficial event to take place on the same day that the Woodward Dream Cruise would have taken place, according to the Oakland County Republican Party’s Facebook page:
MAGA Classic Car Cruise!!
Support our President and
Back The Blue - decorate your cars to support the President and or the Police!
Sat August 15th 12-4 pm
Stop by Oakland Co Republican Party Headquarters to pick up your free Trump lawn sign!
Sign the Unlock Michigan petition!
Bring lawn chairs and watch along Woodward Ave!
Cruise Woodward Ave from Square Lake Road to 8 mile and back!!
This seems like a bad idea. For one, it is disrespectful to the residents and workers in the area who will have to deal with an influx of people who have no additional infrastructure to support them. It’s also dangerous. While Michigan isn’t in the worst shape anymore—the state was number three in infection rates when COVID first took hold—it is still in a similar danger zone as the rest of the country. Michigan now ranks at 18 for infections, according to the CDC. Currently, the state is at more than 94,000 confirmed cases, and 6,480 deaths.
Michigan shrank its deadly lead by adhering to strict lockdown guidelines. While Governor Gretchen Whitmer is in the process of slowly lifting restrictions, a ban against outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people is still in effect. Should a driver and their passengers never get out of the car, they probably won’t be in any danger of infection. However, if the cars show up, the spectators will also show up. The Facebook event encourages spectators. In fact, I can guarantee that, even without an official cruise, there are people setting up lawn chairs along the suburban stretch of Woodward Avenue every night in August already. Woodward is a common cruising spot, after all. And if the flags and stickers I’ve seen displayed over the last four years at the event are any indications, plenty of folks who already attend the Dream Cruise will be more than happy to join a MAGA traffic jam.
If even 10 percent of the normal crowd shows up, this MAGA cruise could end up as a source of an outbreak—definitely worrisome considering the older crowds who arrive at the event every year by the Bel Air full.