1995 : First Woodward Dream Cruise

August 19, 2022 all-day

A view of the 13th Annual Dream Cruise (2007) from atop a building located on Woodward Ave. near Maple Road (aka: 15 Mile Road) in Birmingham, MI

On August 19, 1995, the inaugural Woodward Dream Cruise took place.

Did you know that the Woodward Dream Cruise actually started as a small fundraiser to raise money for a soccer field in Ferndale, Michigan?

Pamela S. McCullough, Mayor, and Nelson House, a plumber from Ferndale,  came up with the idea in 1994 and recruited  a group of volunteers to help pull off the event.   They were looking  to relive and recreate the nostalgic heydays of the 50s and 60s, when youth, music and Motor City steel roamed Woodward Avenue, America’s first highway.

Drivin’ from Drive-In to Drive-In

Ted’s, Totem Pole and The Varsity, Hollywood, Wigwam and Suzie Q’s, and, of course, Big Boy. These old-time drive-ins and restaurants that dotted Woodward Avenue were the places to see and be seen during an era remembered perhaps most famously by Hollywood in American Graffiti and Happy Days. These locations were the turnarounds, stopping points and social hangouts for the cruisers of the era.

Michigan’s first drive-in was located near Square Lake Road in Bloomfield Hills. Ted’s Drive Inn became a hangout and one of the avenue’s most popular destinations. It had begun in 1934 as a lunch wagon/trailer and was known for “the world’s largest hot dog,” priced at 35 cents.

The Totem Pole opened in Royal Oak in 1954 and featured a 16-foot totem pole hand carved by Ojibway Chief White Wolf of St. Ignace. The restaurant introduced the “Teletray,” a 2-way speaker through which customers could order the popular Big Chief Burger.

At these locales and others, roller-skating waitresses sporting white bobby socks and serving trays delivered hamburgers and milkshakes to duck-tailed greasers in leather and beauty queens sporting class rings and letter jackets. The real attractions, though, were the cars.

Hot rods and muscle cars. Convertibles and hard tops. Oversized tires and custom-painted flames. These marvels of machinery were cool and hot; street machines that cruised Woodward emanating vintage rock and roll from the AM radio coupled with the rumble of a big block V8.

Organizers were hoping that maybe 30,00  to 40,000 people would turn out.   250,000 showed and the rest was history.

Today, the Woodward Dream Cruise is the world’s largest one-day automotive event, drawing 1.5 million people and 40,000 classic cars each year from around the globe—from as far away as New Zealand, Australia, Japan and the former Soviet Union. North American cruisers from California, Georgia, Canada and all points in between caravan to Metro Detroit to participate in what has become, for many, an annual rite of summer.

It’s usually scheduled for the third Saturday in August.

The 2018 Cruise is scheduled for August 18th.


Woodward Dream Cruise Official Website

Woodward Dream Cruise Facebook Page

Woodward Dream Cruise wikipedia page

2017 Woodward Dream Cruise Coverage from the Detroit News

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