Don’t Forget the Motor City – Woodward Dream Cruise Thoughts

This past weekend marked the 23rd Woodward Dream Cruise.  A weekend celebrating this region’s fascination with the automobile and reminding everyone the role Detroit had in putting the world on wheels.

However, I kept asking myself one question:

Why doesn’t the cruise extend down Woodward Avenue into the Motor City?

Some reading this will ask, “Why change?  It’s good the way it is…”

To which I say, “Why not?”

With an estimated 1.3 million car lovers and approximately $240 million being pumped into the region’s economy, this signature summer event clearly has a major impact on Metro Detroit.  Imagine the economic impact this extension can have on Detroit if it extends southward into the city.

With no disrespect to the participating cruise cities, Detroit is the anchor city for this region and state, and has been historically known as the “Auto Capital of the World”–but yet, is not included in the Woodward Cruise, a signature car event focused on this city’s historical industry.

I’m not aware of all of the business and political issues as to why Detroit is not included, but I’m simply asking as a person who lives and works in the area.

It was pointed to me Detroit has an Auto Week and other towns have their own cruises and car shows as well. That’s fine, the Woodward Dream Cruise is a showcase event and, in my opinion, the city should be a part of it.

Yes, Detroit has experienced significant changes, including economic and demographic, over the last several decades, but many people attending the cruise this past weekend are probably a generation or two removed from living in Detroit.  In other words, many people across the region have their roots in here and the cruise could be another vehicle to drive them back into the city.

With all of the media in town for the Grand Prix earlier this summer, look at how many “live” aerial shots one saw over the two-day weekend, including downtown and beyond.  I remember checking social media while watching in on TV and noticed how people, including ex-Detroiters, were bursting with pride and boasting about how great their city looked.

The same can happen with the cruise.

During various local broadcasts, I saw many aerial views above Woodward and kept thinking one thing was missing–Detroit.

With new development being announced regularly and by extending the cruise southward through Detroit’s main artery, there’s an opportunity to highlight downtown and existing and proposed neighborhood development while bringing more people and dollars into the city for the entire cruise weekend.

Even for days and weeks leading up to the event, it could potentially provide jobs, increased consumer spending and economic opportunities for small businesses, et. al.

And while it runs 3.3 miles from downtown to midtown, there’s been talk the Q-Line could potentially create spin-off economic opportunities north of downtown.  Well, wouldn’t this be a great opportunity to showcase some of the newer development that’s taking place?

Yes, many people already come into Detroit to enjoy sports, culture, music, the culinary scene, the riverfront and many other attractions.  This would provide another opportunity for people to come together to share memories while making new ones.

As Detroit continues to reemerge and redefine itself, this region should take every opportunity to continue to showcase all if has to offer–from Ferndale, Berkley, Birmingham, Pontiac and other points in between and beyond, but beginning with its namesake city–Detroit.

In the words of the old Martha Reeves and the Vandellas tune, “…can’t forget the Motor City…”

And we shouldn’t.  It’s time to start thinking about how to include it.