100 Things All Detroiters Should Do Before They Die
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61) Make falling down look good while ice-skating at Campus Martius: We know: It’s no Rockefeller Center, but the rink at Campus Martius is close enough. (Heck, it’s bigger than Rockefeller’s — take that, dinky rink!) An annual tree-lighting ceremony kicks off the holiday season, and the park hosts the annual Motown Winter Blast as well, imbuing the ice with winter magic, and all in the heart of the city. Amid surroundings this grand, you’re a star even when you biff.
60) Dispel stereotypes at the Arab International Festival: Too many Americans think of the Middle East as a monolithic place where everybody is the same. You couldn’t be further from the truth, and it’s actually remarkable to see the multitude of people from the Arab world all celebrating cheek-to-jowl at the Arab International Festival. And then there’s all that energy this immigrant community has brought to what was a fading Dearborn: A friend pointed out that, 40 years ago, you could have fired a shot down Warren Avenue and not hit a soul. Don’t try it today.
62) Take the Marche du Nain Rouge, and explain to everyone that the red dude isn’t Satan: See, in French, nain rouge means “red dwarf.” Now I know we tend to associate those with skin redder than L. Brooks Patterson with demons, but many argue that the nain rouge is more like an imp or leprechaun than Lucifer. Just with horns and a tail. Frankly, by the time you’ve marched in this costume parade and poured into a nearby bar to drink with revelers, you won’t care anymore. Thought up spontaneously several years ago, this costumed shindig draws droves of young Detroiters hoping to chase the city’s bad times away. Add to their numbers.
63) Go to Detroit Soup, and discover that soup is exciting: We know what you’re thinking: How great can a soup event be? In fact, soup has very little to do with the whole thing. Yes, you eat soup while listening to one entrepreneur after another pitch an enterprise, before all in attendance vote on who gets the evening’s take, which is that whole crowdfunding thing without computers. And there’s much more than soup on offer too, of surprising quality and generally very friendly to all dietary restrictions.
64) Visit U-Detroit bar and see the awesome Rod Stewart impersonator: Danny D walks around Detroit looking pretty much exactly like Rod Stewart — and he does a damned fine job singing like him too. Combine that with the suave surroundings of the UDetroit Café on beautified Randolph Street, and you have the makings of a sweet evening.
65) See a Lions game and drink at a tailgate party: Sure, drinking outside is not strictly legal, but the powers that be turn a blind eye to the fans gathering in parking lots all over downtown before the big game at Ford Field. And by the time the game is over, everybody usually really needs a drink.
66) Stop traffic in the Slow Roll: The Motor City? Try Detroit Bike City. For the past few years, the Slow Roll has attracted thousands of bicyclists and even more stares as the massive group meets weekly and rides through different neighborhoods. It may be annoying to stopped traffic, but, hey — they’re traffic too.
67) Sing “Schnitzelbank” 10 times in a given busy evening at Dakota Inn Rathskeller: The old-school German biergarten by John R & Six Mile is one of those hidden surprises awaiting the unwitting. Featuring German beer, German food and German song, you’ll sing along with the piano player and perhaps learn a bit of Deutsch while you’re at it.
68) See what ice cream can be at Shatila Bakery: If you have an ice cream jones, don’t just sate it, exploit it at Shatila Bakery, purveyor of super-premium flavors including apricot, mango, pineapple and — perhaps unique to Shatila — kashta. Don’t be confused by the fruit names — these are not sherbets but a mixture of fruit purées and butterfat, having that rich taste and velvety texture that only cream can bestow. You only live once.
69) Have a drive-through Christmas at Hines Park Lightfest: Wayne County gives us more than failed jails and bungling public officials — it also gives us Hines Park Lightfest, the longest, largest drive-through light show in the Midwest. Join the convoy of cars for $5, and see mile after mile of lighted displays heralding the holidays. But you don’t need to use fossil fuels for the trip, as bicycles have become more and more popular on the “drive,” and they make it easier to get off the road and enjoy the festival’s other attractions.