I spent the weekend down in Detroit along the river front to take in the Detroit River Days Festival, now in it's sixth year of continuing success. Growing up in Boston, MA, with time spend in Florida and Georgia in my teens, I never thought I would end up here in Metro Detroit. Everyone I ever met from Michigan along my travels never had anything good to say about the Metro Detroit or Flint areas, most of them being former GM employee families that had been laid off and transplanted during the 80's. Whatever tales of doom, desolation and destruction described to me back then are a far cry from the region I've come to know and call home over the past 20 years I've lived here. I've lived here in this state longer than any other place I've ever lived my entire life and cannot even fathom thinking about leaving it.
Kicking off the weekend downtown with exemplary weather, you would have to look hard to find the despair and depression often described to me back then. The River Walk was alive with a bustle and hustle that made me reminisce of the times I spent in downtown Boston growing up as a child, when my parents used to take us downtown on the subway to wander the wharf, Faneuil Hall, the New England Aquarium, and all the other great options that Boston had to offer. This weekend, downtown Detroit gave me that great feeling of spirit, community and culture that had been missing from my life for so long, I had almost forgotten what it was like. Smiling and laughing, Metro Detroiters from far and near wandered along the jewel of the river front that has been renewed, rejuvenated, and restored to something that is truly a treasure for everyone to enjoy.
The scent of hot grills wafting out over the midway with the many delectable foods that we know and love from our region was enough to make me forgive my diet. The aural rhythms of the many local bands who represent the soul of Detroit, from the Howling Diablos to The Infatuations to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Civic Jazz Orchestra floated along the wind, capturing spontaneous audiences that ebbed and flowed from stage to stage. The cool, soothing waters of the water spouts with children and parents of all walks of life mixing together in laughter. The grand view of the Ambassador Bridge with the majestic Detroit River, deceptively lazy, on up to the protected marshland and viewing trail that meanders north along the river, offering a tranquil sojourn from the cacophony of the midway scant yards away.
Kudos to all involved who made this event happen, especially those at the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy. I am proud to call myself a Michigander these days, and look forward to many more events in this city that is a far cry from the desolate ruination that the media across the nation often portrays us as. Detroit rises, and I am excited to be here with all of you to see it happen.