More than 225,000 Devotees Flock to Blue Oval Mecca
The tents are down and crowds have departed from Ford Motor Companys 152 acre world headquarters complex, but still the memories remain of the automakers centennial celebration that lasted from June 12 through 16.
Ford estimated that more than 225,000 people came to the five-day affair, called “The Road is Ours.”
“Attendance at the event was far beyond our expectations, said Gary Nielsen, executive director, Centennial Operations, Ford Motor Company. “We anticipated about 100,000 guests over the five days and we are thrilled by the huge turnout. Including todays visitors, our total numbers topped 225,000.”
There are still several ancillary events related to Fords 100th anniversary that will be occurring — the Model A Restorers Club (MARC) met in Dearborn June 30 through July 4 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the famed successor to the Model T. About 1,000 families from across North America, with some 800, came to take part in the event, which included a grand tour from Dearborn to the nearby Yankee Air Museum — housed in a hanger that was part of Fords World War II Willow Run B-24 bomber plant. One of the first national freeways — the Edsel Ford Freeway, also known now as a part of Interstate 94, was built to link Fords Rouge River complex with the former war plant.
There will be a Model T tour of the Detroit area later in July (this is separate from the cross-country Model T tour leading up to the centennial), a national Mustang Owners Club of America rally in early August in Dearborn, and events during the annual Woodward Dream Cruise August 16 in Detroits northern suburbs.
Heres a run down of some of the more interesting things that occurred at the centennial celebration, in no particular order:
– An overflow crowd of an estimated 1,500 shareholders attended the 48th annual shareholders meeting at the companys Conference and Event Center, near the Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village, in Dearborn. Security guards were stationed on the roof of the building while others screened the 1,500 shareholders and media, forcing several people to return to their cars to drop off pocketknives and cameras. Chairman and CEO Bill Ford Jr. mentioned that there were serious security concerns, but did not elaborate.
Bill Ford, the great-grandson of Henry Ford, is the fourth member of the family to head the company. Edsel B. Ford I officially served as president from 1919 until his death in 1943, although many historians would argue that he was overshadowed by his father and rivals like production leader Charles Sorensen and Harry Bennett, the companys notorious head of security. Later, the late Henry Ford II became the companys president and chairman.
About 66 members of the Ford family attended the stockholders meeting, including Bill Fords father, William Clay Ford Sr., and cousin Edsel B. Ford II.