Satirist David Sedaris was the first person whose observations about the Christmas herd experience really made sense to me.
In his story “Christmas and Commerce,” Sedaris remarks, “Christmas is a day when we are all handed the same stage props. The same tree, the presents, the meal, the relatives ... and all the same expectations, and then we all try to more or less create the same kind of day. It’s like hundreds of millions of people set to work on the same art project.”
And despite all of that, most of us have to admit that this time of year also can be fun. Heck, even Sedaris probably gets his seasonal jollies after a hard day of satirizing. There is an undeniable spring in our steps during the holiday season. Spare change flows more easily from our pockets, smiles come a little faster. And for 31 years, the city of Detroit and the University Cultural Center Association have been highlighting this particular vibe with Noel Night, the ultimate holiday-themed evening on the town.
Here are just a few of the highlights for this Saturday:
Avalon International Breads (422 W. Willis, 313-832-0008) stays open late. If you have not ventured to this quaint little bakery, why not commence the evening with some delicious treats? Outdoor entertainment will include an oompa-riffic tuba Christmas.
At the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (315 E. Warren, 313-494-5800) there will be a tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. and pictures with Santa (6-8:30 p.m.). The Seniors Memories Writing Group will share personal stories from Christmases past in Detroit. Other attractions include the University of Detroit Show Choir, Mosaic Youth Theatre Singers, and the Shrine of the Black Madonna Nationnaires and storyteller Sister Nkenge, who will share Kwanzaa tales.
The Detroit Institute of Arts (5200 Woodward, 313-833-7900) will also be offering photo ops with Santa (he’s a busy guy this time of year) 5-8:30 p.m. There will be Kwanzaa and Hanukkah celebrations and storytellers 5-8:30 p.m. Other entertainment will include: Arts Academy in the Wood Madrigal Ensemble, Festival Singers, and the On the Edge exhibit. At the Detroit Film Theatre (located inside the DIA), the independent film To Be and to Have will show at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m).
Midtown’s newest crown jewel, the Max M. Fisher Music Center (3711 Woodward, 313-576-5111) will host the Detroit News Young People’s Concert early in the day (10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.). That evening, music lovers can enjoy The Colors of Christmas with the DSO and Peabo Bryson, Sheena Easton, Christopher Cross and Irene Cara (6 p.m. and 8 p.m.).
At the New Detroit Science Center (5020 John R, 313-577-8400), bring the kids to the animated IMAX family holiday film, Santa vs. the Snowman (on the hour, 5-8 p.m.). The planetarium program ‘Tis the Season is about the bright celestial offerings of the cold winter months.
Looking for some theater? See the stage version of It’s a Wonderful Life at the Bonstelle Theatre (3424 Woodward, 313-577-2960) at 8 p.m. The House of Blue Leaves by John Guare shows at 8 p.m. at WSU’s Hilberry Theatre (4743 Cass Ave., 313-577-2972).
Home to some of Detroit’s most talented artists, musicians, writers and the like, the Scarab Club (217 E. Farnsworth, 313-831-1250) is hosting its 90th Annual Gold Medal Exhibition which will feature a catered jambalaya dinner. Other entertainment includes Vox Humana, Pleasant Moments Vintage Dancers, Arts Academy in the Woods Traditional Ballet and blueswoman Thornetta Davis on hand to perform holiday songs.
If romance is your thing, why not make your way to the Park Shelton (15 E. Kirby, 313-875-9500), where horse-drawn carriages depart every 10 minutes 5-9 p.m.
The First Unitarian-Universalist Church (4605 Cass Ave, 313-833-9107) will be hosting a Kwanzaa display by the Shrine Cultural Center/Bookstore among many other holiday-themed activities.
As if the above weren’t enough, there’s the city’s Winter Gallery Crawl, which includes more than 40 craft and art galleries from downtown to the New Center area. Starting at 11 a.m., tour buses leave from the atrium lobby of the Compuware Building at Woodward and Monroe. The crawl continues until 5 p.m. For parking and other details, call 313-224-9500 or see www.ci.detroit.mi.us/culturalaffair.
Noel Night has a little something for everyone. Even Sedaris would have a good time —though he’d be ashamed to admit it.
Participating venues are on and around Woodward Avenue between Willis and Ferry; the concurrent gallery crawl covers a larger area. Many activities are free (including shuttle services 5-9 p.m.). Visit www.detroitmidtown.com or call 313-577-5088.Eve Doster is the listings editor of Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].