Thursday, June 30, 2005

Now that's Tasty!

Comerica TasteFest offers a variety of food, music and fun for Detroiters during July 4th weekend

Nearly 500,000 people are expected to head to Detroit's New Center area this weekend for what has become a major summer tradition in the D: the Comerica TasteFest.

Food lovers will delight in the more than 40 local restaurants showcasing signature dish samples at this year's event, and music lovers will enjoy listening to a plethora of local favorites like the Thornetta Davis Band and Amp Fiddler, as well as popular national names such as G. Love and Special Sauce and Faith Evans.

In addition to the great food and excellent music at the five-day event, festival-goers will also have the opportunity to browse and purchase items from some of Detroit's most beloved stores and boutiques. Eastern Market's Detroit Spice Company, the Fisher Building's Vera Jane, and the highly successful Pure Detroit, are just three of many stores that will be congregated in the area next to the Street Market selling art, books, collectibles, clothing, records, and more.

A complete list of TasteFest-participating restaurants is available
here. Food samples can only be bought with TasteFest tickets, which will be sold throughout the event area.

All musical performances at TasteFest 2005 are free. Music lineups and stage information can be found

TasteFest has been a part of Detroit's summer calendar since 1993 and is put on by the New Center Council, Inc., (NCC) a non-profit organization that aims to keep downtown Detroit's edge city one that is diverse, safe, and financially sound. Since it began, the festival has helped raise more than $850,000 for various renovations and planning devices that help to uphold the NCC's mission. In addition, TasteFest proceeds were directly responsible for the development of an award-winning youth program at one of Detroit's elementary schools.

For maps, parking information, or anything else you want to know about TasteFest, please click here

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

North America's Largest Fireworks Display in Detroit tomorrow

At this time tomorrow night, all eyes will be on the Detroit River - or, rather, the area above the river - as thousands of Detroiters and Canadians take in the spectacular colors and shapes of this year's International Freedom Festival fireworks, an annual tradition the two cities have been sharing in for nearly a half a century.

A View of Canada from Detroit

Started in 1959 and paid for by J.L. Hudson, the annual event has continued to draw nearly one million people to the borders of Detroit and Windsor. Although Hudson's is no longer in existence, corporations like Marshall Field's (last year's sponsor) and Target (this year's sponsor) have stepped up as sponsors to continue the tradition of North America's largest fireworks display. The Parade Company - a not-for-profit organization that also organizes Detroit's Thanksgiving Day Parade - is, once again, planning the show to ensure that everything is in place and runs smoothly.

If you have never experienced the International Freedom Festival fireworks in person, I highly suggest you come downtown for this spectacular and amazing event - it is breathtaking and something you must see at least once in your life.

The fireworks can be viewed for free at the following locations: Belle Isle, Chene Park, Hart Plaza, and Riverside Park. Historic Fort Wayne will also be open for fireworks-watching, but this organization is charging a $3 fee for adults and $2 fee for children.

You can also see the fireworks from the top of the Centre Street Parking Garage, where - for a $175 donation - you can see Eminem perform one song. The Detroit-born recording artist has offered to make this rare appearance to ensure that the IFF fireworks continues well into the future.
The actual fireworks show begins tomorrow night at 10:06 pm.
If you cannot make it to the show, you can watch it on WDIV in the Metro Detroit area. And, be sure to check back here later this week, because I am sure I will have some great pictures.

Have a question or comment on this post? E-mail me at

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Detroit chosen for 2010 Frozen Four Tournament

Whatever Detroit representatives are doing to win major sporting event bids, they need to keep on doing it.

The city - which was mocked by many when making its bid for Super Bowl XL - not only won the rights to host that game; it was just given notice by the NCAA that the league's 2010 Frozen Four will also be hosted in the D.

Ford Field will be the first football arena to host the Frozen Four

According to
this Friday article in the online edition of the Detroit Free Press, having the event at Ford Field - not the home of the Detroit Red Wings but, rather, of the Detroit Lions - could send attendance numbers through the roof. Rough estimates for seating capacity at the 2010 tournament range between 65,000 and 70,000.

Detroit has hosted the NCAA men's college hockey tournament five times before. The tournament was held in Detroit in 1977, 1979, 1985, 1987, and 1990.

The following cities have also been chosen to host upcoming Frozen Four tournaments:

2006: Milwaukee
2007: St. Louis
2008: Denver
2009: Washington D.C.
2011: St. Paul
2012: Tampa

For more information on the Frozen Four tournament, visit the NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship webpage.

Friday, June 24, 2005

East Jefferson Gets Jazzy Tomorrow

Enjoy the flexible rhythms of jazz and the melancholic sounds of the blues at tomorrow's Jazzin' on Jefferson, a free outdoor festival aimed at bringing the local community together to celebrate its contribution to two of America's greatest musical genres: jazz and blues.

A View of the East Riverfront from Belle Isle

The event, organized by the Jefferson East Business Association (JEBA), succeeded at bringing 10,000 people to the area called the East Jefferson Business district during its inaugural year in 2004, and hopes to beat that number at this year's festival.

With East Jefferson resident and blues-great Eddie Burns playing the festival, as well as the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and many other local musicians, artists, and restaurants showcasing their own specialties, I have no doubt they will.

The festival runs from 11 am - 9 pm on Saturday, June 25. It will be held within a closed-off section of East Jefferson Avenue and Chalmers. Visit JEBA's website for detailed performance schedules and more information.

JEBA is one of five districts that was selected in 2002 as a recipient of the RE$TORE Detroit! designation, a project created by the Mayor's Office of Commercial Revitalization (ONCR); selected districts were each awarded $640,000 grants for neighborhood revitalization projects. The goal of the program is to empower local businesses, residents, and property owners to work together, rather than separately, to strengthen their respective districts and create a more community-oriented area.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Pricewaterhouse Coopers to consolidate employees in new downtown building

Since I drive down I-375 South every day, I've had the opportunity to watch the construction of a new downtown building as it has evolved. Here are some pictures and more information on Ford Field's new neighbor:

The building about a month after construction began

The new building, which possesses an exterior similar to that of Ford Field, already has 81% of its occupancy space leased out; Pricewaterhouse Coopers will move about 400 of its employees from their current locations into the new 115,000-square foot structure once it is completed. A
Q1 2005 Market Report by Colliers International states that the expected completion date is sometime in 2006.

The building on June 20

PwC currently has metro Detroit-area offices in Bloomfield Hills and Tower Four of the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit.
PwC is a global company that offers audit and assurance, crisis management, human resources, performance improvement, tax, and transaction-related services.

Monday, June 20, 2005

You, too, can be an All-Star!

With the All-Star Game just three weeks away, organizers for the MLB's yearly tournament have shifted their preparation plans into high gear; they want to make sure the D looks its best as throngs of visitors from across the world begin flooding in.

Similar to what will be needed for Super Bowl XL in February, preparing Detroit for the 2005 All- Star Game at Comerica Park is going to require the assistance of more than just a few groups of people; in fact, hundreds are needed.

If you are interested in helping get the Motor City ready for this major event, consider volunteering three hours of your time this Saturday at the All-Star Super Makeover, a huge project aimed at cleaning and freshening-up Detroit just in time for its worldwide visitors next month.

The All-Star Super Makeover will be held from 9-12:30 pm on Saturday, June 25, and will involve picking up trash, painting over graffiti, power-washing walkways, and disposing of weeds.

Graffiti, like that pictured above, is a major target for the Super Makeover

Volunteers should visit the Get in the Game website to sign up and should meet at the entrance to Comerica Park at 9 am on Saturday to register. Once signed in, you'll be assigned to a team of about 20 people. Together, you and your group members will work on a particular spot within the target cleaning area of the project, which encompasses everything between Mack and the riverfront from the north and south, and I-75 and the Lodge freeways from east and west.

Still not convinced you want to be an All-Star? Well, maybe a little incentive will make you change your mind: the Detroit Tigers are giving away two tickets to a future game to the first 1000 All-Star Makeover volunteers that pre-register and participate at this Saturday's event.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Habitat Building Blitz Underway in Detroit

Hundreds of volunteers gathered in southwest Detroit this morning for the start of the Jimmy Carter Work Project 2005 - a week-long building program designed to supply brand-new homes to 30 deserving families.

Jimmy Carter Work Project (JCWP) - an event that Carter and his wife preside over for one week every year - is part of the work of Habitat for Humanity International, a non-profit housing ministry whose goal is to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world.

Habitat for Humanity Detroit - one of over 2000 affiliates of Habitat for Humanity International - expects more than 1500 volunteers from Detroit and beyond to gather at this year's target area, Thurgood Marshall Village, to help in the construction of the 30 homes. Contributing to every aspect of the home-building process, volunteers perform labor-intensive tasks like raising and insulating walls, installing cabinets, and hanging doors. Many of these individuals, along with corporate and church sponsors, also make financial donatations needed to buy the supplies for Habitat supplies.

Detroit, which is one of two host cities for the former President's 2005 event, was chosen because of its need for good-quality housing, as well as its high-level of poverty-stricken neighborhoods. Benton Harbor, Michigan, is the other host city that was chosen for this year's Work Project. In all, 225 Habitat homes will be built this week throughout Michigan and Windsor, Ontario.

Started in 1986 by Fred and Ellen Schippert,
HFH Detroit was the recipient of the 2003 Habitat Affiliate of the Year by Habitat for Humanity Michigan, and for good reason: since its founding almost 20 years ago, HFH Detroit has constructed more than 150 houses in the D. In addition, many of these homes were built in areas that hadn't seen new construction in two or more decades.

For information on volunteering, donating, applying to become a Habitat homeowner, or learning more about Habitat for Humanity Detroit, please click here.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

De-troit Ba-sket-ball!

A view of this year's Eastern Conference Finals

It is safe to say that Piston-fever has engulfed Metro Detroit. The morning radio shows are talking about it; it's the buzz at the watercooler; and, you are this week's fashionista if you're caught sporting a Wallace jersey or Pistons hat.

While I know all of you are familiar with this year's players' stats, what you may not know is how the team got its start. That's where I come in. Read carefully - you can even act like you researched all of this stuff yourself. I won't tell anyone if you don't...

Fact One: The Detroit Pistons weren't even born in Detroit. They were actually created in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1941 as simply "The Pistons". They became Detroit's Pistons in the 1957-1958 season.

Fact Two: The Detroit Pistons have called four stadiums "home". They originally played in the old Olympia Stadium. In 1961, they moved to Cobo. That lasted until 1978, when they moved to the Pontiac Silverdome. They left Pontiac in 1989 and headed for their current home, The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Fact Three: The Detroit Pistons have only won three NBA titles; these were awarded back-to-back when the Bad Boys brought it home in the 1989 and 1990 seasons; the third championship was, of course, won last year.

Fact Four: Detroit may seem like its down in this series, but I guarantee it's not out! Well, maybe this isn't a fact - but it's a good hunch. Like the city it represents, nobody thought the Detroit Pistons would amount to anything; they proved the country wrong when they beat the Lakers last year to win the championship. And, like its NBA team, Detroit, too, has made a comeback. I know this city isn't going down anytime soon, and I know this team isn't, either.

Let's go Pistons!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Washington Boulevard gets an Upgrade

Large trees were recently transported to Washington Boulevard

On the heels of the announcement by NFL Super Bowl XL special events director, Frank Supovitz, that Detroit's plans are on track to host the big game in February, I grabbed my camera to get some "construction-in-action" photos. This post and the pictures that go with it capture and highlight the metamorphosis that Washington Boulevard (between State and Grand River) has undergone since construction began last fall.

New lamp posts are also a part of Washington's upgrade

Part of Detroit's Lower Woodward Corridor Improvement project is the transformation of Washington Boulevard back to a "real" boulevard - one with a wide median and traffic lanes on both sides. As you can see from the pictures - which I took last Thursday after visiting Bookies Tavern (can't wait for that new patio!) - the so-called "red monkey bar art" has been removed, and large trees have been shipped in to take its place.

New lamp posts, reminiscent of 1920s Detroit, have also begun popping up. In addition, uniquely-shaped cement flower boxes, like the one in the picture below, are being created on both sides of Washington.

One of the empty cement flower boxes that will line Washington Boulevard's sidewalks

For an artist's rendition of what Washington Boulevard will eventually look like once its completed, visit this 2003 Detroit News article. This part of the project is set to be done this summer. Grand River, unfortunately, will not be completed by the time the Super Bowl arrives.

On a side note, if you're going to be driving around downtown anytime soon, I suggest checking the Build Detroit website, which details traffic and construction areas and lane closures. It's a great resource for chronic or upcoming construction information in the D.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Detroit Festival of the Arts Today Through Sunday

Right about now is the time of the year that I start jonesing for a vacation. I know it doesn't particularly make sense, because it is finally warm in Detroit, but, for some reason, June seems to be the month that I want to take a break. I am ready for a change of scenery. Aching to get out there and explore. To learn new things and meet new people. Last year I went to New York. The year before that it was Chicago. This year, however, I have decided to stay right here in the D.

The GO READ Garden stage features celebrity readers like Detroit Lion Charles Rogers. GO READ will be held on the Cass lawn of the Detroit Public Library.

While I have to admit that taking a short trip to South America or spending the summer backpacking in Europe would fulfill my social and cultural needs, the guilt I suffer when that little voice in my head reminds me about the strict financial budget I have committed to is far worse. Plus, I don't know about you, but I don't want to leave Detroit right now - there are too many fun things going on right here. Which brings me to my point. Lucky for me (and my wallet), the Detroit Festival of the Arts is going on this weekend, which means I can go on a "mini vacation" just down the road.

The Detroit Institute of Arts and other area cultural institutions will have special exhibitions and events during the festival.

No, I'm not kidding - the DFOTA, which is now in its 19th year - is similar to a mini vacation. It's kind of like the festival's sponsors took all the best things about a bunch of different countries and arranged to have them all in Midtown for a few days. There are 10 street stages, where performers from Cape Verde, Africa, Canada, France, Spain, and Mexico can be viewed. More than 100 artists from around the U.S. encompass this year's Artist's Market, where festival-goers can browse and purchase anything from sculptures to jewelry. In addition, the festival also features poetry readings, a children's fair, nationally-renowned musicians, and a 75-ton sand sculpture. Several Midtown institutions - such as the Scarab Club, who will host the 2005 Poetry Slam Fest on Saturday - also have special events and performances lined up for this weekend's festival.

So, why not take a little break from your busy schedule this weekend to enjoy the vast array of arts, literature, and music that's been transported to Detroit? There is no charge for this world-class event, which is open until 11 pm tonight, from noon to 11 pm tomorrow, and noon to 9 pm on Sunday. Visit for location information, performance schedules, festival after-party details, and more.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Race for the Cure this Saturday at Comerica Park

At last year's Race with my mom, a breast cancer survivor

Your sister. Your mother. Your aunt. Your friend. Your friend's mother. Your co-worker's aunt/mother/sister/grandmother. Nowadays, it seems that everyone knows somebody that has, or has had, breast cancer. And, according to the
website of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, approximately 211,240 new cases will be diagnosed in the year 2005.

While cases of breast cancer continue to increase every year, it is important to note that breast cancer screenings have become more common and accessible during the past two decades,
prompting earlier detection and a decrease in deaths resulting from advanced-stage breast cancer.

The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation has been the major catalyst in the fight against breast cancer. Raising more than $740 million since its creation in 1982, the Race for the Cure 5k run/3k walk is the largest series fundraiser in the world.

This Saturday, June 11, marks the eighth Detroit Race for the Cure. At 7 am, breast cancer survivors are welcomed to gather and celebrate their victory together at the Survivor Cafe, located in front of Comerica Park. Sponsor booths providing educational information on breast cancer are scattered throughout the area in front of Comerica, and Race participants and event attendees will have a chance to browse the stations before the Race begins at 9 am.

If you haven't signed up yet, but are interested in participating, you can still register online through June 9 at 5 pm. The cost for youth ages 6-17 is $15. Adults 18-64 are $30. Those 65 and over are $15, and all children ages 5 and under are free (but must be registered). If you wait until Race day, prices shoot up to $20 for youths, $40 for adults, and $40 for seniors. At this point, all Race packets must be picked up either at the pre-Race expo. in Southfield, or on Race Day.

For more information, please visit the
Detroit Race for the Cure website.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Movin' and Cruisin': CarTunes Now on Display

A CarTune in front of the Hazen Pingree statue in Detroit's Grand Circus Park

Chicago had cows. Cleveland had guitars. And now, Detroit has cars.

CarTunes on Parade, the MotorCity's take on the public art display that caught fire in a number of U.S. cities during the past decade, took to the streets of Detroit and Windsor last week.

Aptly called Movin' and Groovin', this year's sculptures are based upon Detroit's rich automotive history and its Motown roots.

Compromised of more than 115 sculptures with names like the Respectobile and Motown Gold, the idea for the dual-city art display is credited to the Windsor Endowment for the Arts, a public Canadian agency created to maintain and promote the arts in Canada's southernmost city.

Designed to beautify and enrich the streets of Detroit and Windsor, as well as to increase tourism amongst them, this year's CarTunes event is the first of its kind between two international cities.

A CarTune that was on display at the 2005 Auto Show

Scattered throughout downtown Detroit on its riverfront, throughout Campus Martius Park, and in the Midtown area, each CarTune's end-design is the product of one or more local artists, including a few that were designed by Detroit-area art students.

CarTunes on Parade lasts through the end of September. On October 26, the Tunes will be auctioned off at a special event hosted at GM's Wintergarden. Proceeds will be split amongst the designing artist(s), charities of the winner's choice, and either the Windsor Endowment for the Arts or the YMCA of Metro Detroit's YArts program.

For more information on CarTunes, check out my February 15 post on this topic, or visit the Parade Company's website.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Hunt is on!

A list of items I would put down on my own Detroit Scavenger Hunt

Calling all Detroit-lovers, explorers, competitors, and anyone else looking to have a good time - clear tomorrow's agenda because this is one event you don't want to miss!

For the very first time, Detroit Synergy and Get in the Game are hosting a scavenger hunt throughout Detroit, and you're invited. Yep, a scavenger hunt, just like the ones you participated in when you were a kid. I've actually participated in a scavenger hunt with adults before, and it was a blast. It's also a great ice-breaker, too, so don't worry if you don't know your teammates very well beforehand; you'll develop instant camaraderie as you fiercely compete for the day's top prize - a 10-pack of VIP rooftop tickets to the Target Fireworks on June 29.

Could your items be somewhere in here?

Check-in for the scavenger hunt begins at 11:30 am at Campus Martius Park, located along Woodward Avenue, downtown. Participants must be 18 or over, and teams will be made up of 3-5 people. If you want to participate, but can't get a team together by the morning, don't worry - I got an e-mail bulletin from Detroit Synergy this afternoon that said singles or pairs should notify the registration person at check-in, who will then help pair you up with other one- and two-somethings.

Once you're all checked-in, you'll be given maps, bottled water, and clues to the items you are in search of. The Hunt begins at 1 pm and concludes at 4:30 pm. All teams are asked to report back to Campus Martius Park at the end of the hunt, so an awards ceremony can begin at 5 o'clock.

There is still time to register before the event tomorrow. You can do that

Good luck and happy hunting!

A Lunchtime Highlight: Music at Campus Martius Park

A shot of Campus Martius Park from this year's Winter Blast festival

Campus Martius Park "between seasons"

A friend of mine that frequently calls over to Spain and Italy as part of her job is always telling me how great it would be to live over there because many European companies give their workers daily siestas, breaks in the work day when employees can go home and nap for an hour or so, then return to work for the remainder of the day. I've looked into this phenomenon a bit, and it seems that companies that adhere to the siesta policy do so because they believe it keeps productivity high throughout the day; although they are allowing workers an extra hour for themselves, the trade-off is greater because workers aren't tired by the time 3 o'clock rolls around.

Although I don't think that the private sector in the United States is moving towards anything like daily siestas, I have observed the overflowing parking lots and picnic areas of local parks around lunchtime, and have come to the conclusion that many American workers have begun seeking out mid-day distractions to block out, if only for a short while, the world of cubicles and board rooms.

If you're someone looking for a lunchtime diversion of sorts, and you work near Compuware downtown, you needn't go any further than the finely-manicured grass of Campus Martius Park. About a week and a half ago, CMP started its Summer in the Park music series, a daily work-week event featuring local musicians. The series, which runs from 11:30 am - 1 pm, is free and open to the public. Musical genres incluse jazz, harp, violin, and many more. Check out Campus Martius Park's website for more information on specific daily performances.

Hey, it might not be a daytime nap, but it beats reading a book at your desk.

A side note on Campus Martius Park: the park will begin hosting evening and weekend events starting on June 14. A list of performances was set to be issued yesterday, but I have not been able to locate one as of yet. I'll keep you posted.