We don't normally write too many feature stories in first-person narrative, but the story of the latest Woodward Dream Cruise deserves a firsthand account.
Remember that big East Coast blackout last summer, the one that killed the lights in New York City and beyond? Well, it also hit Detroit and its suburbs. I live in those suburbs, just a mile or so off Woodward Avenue. When the lights went out, it was the middle of what's become known as Dream Cruise Week. Although the Dream Cruise is officially just a Saturday affair, thousands of enthusiasts start rolling the big avenue the entire week leading up to it.
So, as locals and out-of-towners gathered two nights before the official cruise, filling parking lots and positioning lawn chairs on the curb, the lights blinked so suddenly you'd have thought Mother Nature tripped on the extension cord plugged into Detroit.
And, yes, it was a hassle. Besides a lack of water for drinking and showers, no juice makes it awfully hard to charge the battery on this VETTE Magazine photographer's digital camera!
The lights didn't really come back on until Saturday morning, the day of the cruise. And though some preliminary supporting events were cancelled, the cruise itself was a go as long as the power stayed on.
Not surprisingly, the spectator crowd was down, but not as much as you might have thought for such an inconvenient situation. Police estimated the crowd at one million.
Also, the blackout didn't seem to affect the cruise's infrastructure too badly, either. Street vendors with their gas- or charcoal-lit grilles did a brisk business in burgers and chicken, as well as the bottled water they already had stocked. And the countless porta-johns lining the route made the lack of water a little more bearable.
In the end, I was able to fire off some great photos (some seen here were shot during Dream Cruise Week as well as the big day itself) and take a shower.
As a matter of fact, everyone who attended the 2003 Dream Cruise was amazed at how little the adversity affected the fun.
It was, well, "shocking."