2020 Woodward Dream Cruise is officially canceled due to coronavirus

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Organizers of the annual Woodward Dream Cruise on Monday made official what everyone had long suspected, that the 26th edition is canceled due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision to scrap this year’s event, which was slated for Aug. 15, was made by vote of the Dream Cruise Board. It comes after several cities that lie along the M-1 route, as it is unofficially known, passed resolutions urging organizers to cancel the event, effectively assuring that no permits would be issued to vendors or for related events or entertainment, with other cities reportedly telling private businesses not to rent out their parking lots to cruisers. Dream Cruise organizers in April scrapped official events such as the Mustang Alley and children’s play zones, and they had run an announcement atop its official website announcing the cancellation of “all community events” planned for the 2020 Dream Cruise.

“While we are deeply saddened by the tough decision to cancel the 26th annual Woodward Dream Cruise, we know it is in the greater public’s best interest to keep everyone safe and healthy,” Michael Lary, the organization’s president, said in a statement. “We look forward to resuming the Dream Cruise in 2021 and making it a memorable and safe experience for all.”

That said, few observers expect the announcement to have much effect on the plans of the most committed of Dream Cruise enthusiasts. Already, several so-called “wildcat cruises” have popped up along stretches of Woodward through Detroit’s northern suburbs as Michigan’s stay-at-home restrictions have relaxed in recent weeks following declining numbers of new COVID-19 cases and deaths.

On a recent warm Saturday evening in early June, muscle cars, vintage curios and even a convoy of Polaris Slingshots jammed Woodward, turning an ordinary commute into something approximating a pre-COVID traffic jam. In spots, the sidewalks were packed with people out watching the spectacle. In one area, the large parking lot of a shuttered restaurant was packed with parked cars, many with their hoods up, and revelers, many of whom were not wearing masks or observing social distancing recommendations.

Lary told the Detroit News that the previous decision to cancel ancillary events “cuts out probably half the audience for Woodward Dream Cruise,” yet the event regularly attracts crowds estimated at as much as 2 million people. As we’ve previously noted, police can’t close down Woodward, which is a public roadway, and they typically don’t intervene with cruisers unless they’re explicitly breaking traffic laws or cruising curfews set by some cities. So public health proponents will unfortunately still probably have plenty to worry about come Aug. 15.

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