“Celebrating 50 Years of Dearborn Heights” will be the 2013 theme of the city’s annual Spirit Festival, including devoting Sunday to “Dearborn Heights 50th Anniversary Day.”
The entertainment, ethnic foods, special events and amusement ride midway taking place June 5-9 on the grounds of the Canfield Community Center (1801 N. Beech Daly, one block south of Ford Road) is just one event being tied into the city’s celebration of its half century mark. Parks & Recreation Director Kenneth P. Grybel said that throughout this weekend, festival-goers will be hearing music from 1963 when the bands are not playing, and the city’s birth in that year will be showcased at various activities.
“It was an ongoing theme for a multitude of events that have been held or will be held in Dearborn Heights as part of the city’s 50th anniversary celebration,” Grybel said,” this probably being the biggest and most prominent event that the city operates.
“They’ve had other events that have highlighted the history of Dearborn Heights through the library and things like that. This one here is more of a community celebration, and that’s what the Spirit Festival is about. It allows people to get together, maybe for a short five-day period to forget about some of their troubles; to share some good camaraderie with their fellow neighbors and people in their community and friends; and maybe even invite residents and friends from other communities to show what a great place Dearborn Heights is to live, work and play,” Grybel said.
Sunday has been designated as the day when Dearborn Heights’ 50th anniversary will be given special emphasis. Anniversary balloons will be passed out to the children on that day, and the festival will be closing out from 5:30-9 p.m. with a band from Ontario in Canada, British Beat 66, which plays the “British Invasion” music that started with the coming of the Beatles in 1963. Grybel said that the band will perform music from that era such as the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Herman’s Hermits “and other great groups that invaded the United States in 1963.”
The festival will hold its large anniversary celebration at 4 p.m. under the entertainment tent, recognizing all the Golden Anniversary residents. These are people who will be residing in the city on Sunday, and have continually resided in Dearborn Heights at least 50 years. Grybel expressed hope that about 100 will eventually RSVP and show up to be presented a special-recognition certificate “for their accomplishment.
“That’s quite a milestone to stay with one community for 50 years and go through the good times and the bad, I think more good times in Dearborn Heights than bad, but yes, we all have our ups and downs” Grybel said. “And for sticking it out, we just want to say thank you.”
Invitations have been sent out to everyone whom the 50th Anniversary Committee was able to identify in its canvassing the community to identify as many Golden Age residents as possible, Grybel said, and more that 250 have responded. Many of those known residents are elderly, and they have called to make known their inability to attend because of health issues, he said, but everyone who responded will still get the certificate mailed to them.
The “Dearborn Heights 50th Anniversary Day” will begin by welcoming back a former annual tradition that had been absent for years, the Sunday morning pancake breakfast. The Dearborn Heights Professional Firefighters are sponsoring the 9 a.m.-noon event underneath the main entertainment tent.
“So we’re very excited to have this back,” Grybel said. “It just allows people to go to church, and then come over and have a nice breakfast, and move right into the day’s activities of the Spirit Fest.”
During other days of Spirit Fest activities, the 20th annual “Taste of the Heights” Food Fest will be themed with 50th Anniversary displays, Grybel said. During that same evening, the first 125 people who register for the 27th annual Mayor’s Walk will get a commemorative Dearborn Heights 50th Anniversary t-shirt, the official t-shirt of the Spirit Festival.
One major change in this year’s festival, he said, is Wednesday will no longer be a full festival night, but will become “Sneak Preview Night” this year. That evening will be limited only to amusement rides, Grybel said, but the city will make it affordable with a $4-off coupon that can be downloaded from the city’s website, or picked up at any city building.
Though city negotiates the pay-one-price band in order to make carnival rides the most affordable, according to Grybel, he believes that the $12 pay-one-price with the coupon is a couple of dollars cheaper than the cheapest pay-one-price the festival has had in at least a decade. The regular pay-one-price for riding 4-10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday is $16, $18 for 3-11 p.m. Friday, and $20 for 1-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The only entertainment taking place Wednesday will be at the 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Senior Jubilee under the entertainment tent. Dearborn Heights senior citizens age 55 and older will have their final chance to buy the $3 admission at either the Berwyn or Eton Senior Citizen Centers, by Tuesday’s deadline between 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (with no on-site parking, according to Grybel, transportation to Canfield Wednesday morning will be provided from both Berwyn and Eton, as well as from the senior citizen high rise).
In addition to the entertainment, Halina’s will provide “a nice lunch,” and Grybel added that Kiwanis Club will run a bingo.
“There are some nice prizes given away, and it’s just a nice way to recognize our citizens who have given so much over the years to the community, saying thank you to them,” he said.
Another major change is that both the Food Fest and seventh annual Pasta & Pizza Feast will be moved to new times, from 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday and 5-7 p.m. Friday inside the Canfield Community Center. Grybel said the change from previous years’ 6-8 p.m. was because 8 p.m. was late for people to eat dinner, and the new times correlated better with dinner hour. He also said the new times would conflict less with entertainment, and allow Food Fest participants to sign up for the Mayor’s Walk.
The price for the Food Fest is the same as last year, Grybel said, $6 for adults, $4 for ages 3-12, and free for children under 3. Tickets for the Pasta & Pizza Feast are $8, ($6 for senior citizens age 55 & up, and for children age 12 and under—children under 3 are free). The price for the pancake breakfast is $5 for adults, $4 for senior citizens age 55 and up, $3 for children age 12 and under, with children 3 and under being free.
The community food booths have been reduced to three this year, though Grybel pointed out that the D-7 Dads’ Club, North Dearborn Heights Baseball, and Redskins Football have added things to their menus to increase their profit.
“Of course the amusement ride midway will have all their allotment of carnival-type foods throughout their side (of the midway), so I think there’ll be plenty of opportunity between our two specialty meals with the Taste of the Heights and the Pasta Feast and all the food that’s out there,” Grybel said. “I don’t think anyone will go hungry at the event.”
The midway will again feature the city’s largest amusement ride carnival, brought back by Mid America Shows.
“They’ve been with us probably at least 20 years, providing I think one of the finest ride midway shows in the Midwest,” Grybel said. “And we’ve been very pleased with our relationship.
“They have a number of kiddie rides, and larger more spectacular rides for the older kids, a lot of them very comparable to what you’d see at the major amusement ride complexes. People are going to the major amusement ride complexes; they’re paying $30, $40 and $50, and I know they get a lot there too; but in today’s times, you can only afford so much. So our midway is the largest venue that comes to Dearborn Heights, it provides a great opportunity to enjoy a lot of the thrills and excitement that you get from going on amusement rides,” Grybel said.
Besides the three food booths, the community side of the midway has specialty booths such as the Crestwood High School Band selling candy, as well as “novelty-type booths” such as one selling temporary tattoos, and another for a face painter.
Gryble mentioned the midway will also have a booth manned by the fire department during all hours which the festival is running, to provide first aid to patients such as people suffering heat stroke during hot days, or children getting scrapes or cuts. Paramedics will be on hand to deal with even life-threatening situations, Grybel added.
“I think that’s tremendous peace of mind,” Grybel said. “Our police department along with our police reserves will be providing security, making sure that it’s a safe environment for everybody that visits the Spirit Festival.”
On the 11th annual “Community Night” on Thursday, registration will begin at 6:30 p.m. for the 7 p.m. Mayor’s Walk. Various school groups will provide the musical entertainment that evening.
The 7-9:30 p.m. evening concert will be provided by the Divine Child High School Jazz Band (7:30 p.m.), Riverside Middle School Chorus (8:15 p.m.) and Crestwood High School Jazz Band (8:45 p.m.). The Star International Academy will start the evening’s entertainment with ethnic songs and dance from 5-6 p.m.
The Taste of the Heights is scheduled to include the following participants: Antonio’s Cucina Italiana (covetelli rita, mostaccioli with meat sauce, cannolis and Antonia’s Famous Bread), Al Shallal (fattoush salad, hummus, pita bread, rice with almonds and falafel), Applebee’s (Oriental salad), Del Taco (caramel cheesecake bites), Jimmy John’s (assorted sub sandwiches), Kroger (three sheet cakes), Leo’s Coney Island (Greek salad), Lona’s Pizza (pizza), McDonald’s Restaurant (orange drink), Mexican Fiesta (bean & cheese burritos, ground beef & cheese enchiladas, chips and salsa), Papa Romano’s (bambino bread, mostaccioli and pizza), Red Lobster (popcorn shrimp, shrimp pasta, cheddar bay biscuits, and key lime cheesecake), and Warren Valley Banquet Center (penne pasta with palomino sauce).
On Dearborn Heights Community Service Clubs Night, the city’s Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary Clubs will set up their information booths from 6-8 p.m., and they will sponsor the evening’s entertainment. The return of former festival perennial Steve King & the Dittilies will close out Friday.
“All three major service clubs in Dearborn Heights…will have some information tents, where people can visit their booths, and learn more about the Lions and Kiwanis and Jaycees (sic)—and who knows?” Grybel said. “You might find a connection and want to join one of the clubs, but if not, at least it lets the community know that these groups are very active and a very important part of our community.
“And we’re very pleased that they’re now going to have a very visible presence at Spirit Fest on Friday night, and that’s another change we have,” Grybel said.
The Sandy Adams Dance Revue will have a Hawaiian Luau theme from 5-5:30 p.m., followed by the Zumba Dance Exercise Demo from 5:30 p.m.-6 p.m. Performances by the Crestwood High School Pom Pon Squad (6:50-7 p.m.) and Crestwood High School Cheerleaders (8:30-8:40 p.m.) will bracket the time that band members spend on stage Friday evening.
“The closeout act, which is Steve King and the Dittilies, which is one of our most popular events that we’ve had here and we didn’t have Steve last year, but he’s back this year and he’ll be performing from 7-10,” Grybel said. “If you’re at a pasta feast until 8 o’clock, by the time you get all tight, you’ve missed some of our good entertainment, so we wanted to reduce some of the conflicts we have the events we have going, we thought that was just the natural thing to do, and I think everybody will be very pleased with it.”
One thing being added to Friday’s entertainment will be the renewing of the police department and fire department competition. The police officers and firefighters will play softball at 6:30 p.m. on the Central Park baseball diamond.
“So if anyone wants to come out and cheer their favorite police officer or fireman, or just show their appreciation of all the good work they do locally in our community providing safety and responding to emergencies, that would be a great way to show your support and watch a pretty competitive match,” Grybel said. “They’ve always played some pretty good competitive softball.”
“Because parking becomes a premium on Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Grybel said that starting that evening, the free shuttle service will be up and running again for this year’s festival. The air-conditioned Spirit Shuttle Service will run every 10 minutes after 5 p.m. each day, from the Dearborn Heights post office parking lot to the center of the festival grounds.
“Because of the large crowds that weekend, a lot of people unfortunately waste a lot of time driving around for a parking spot, and then they finally find one, and when they do, they find they’re walking almost as far as from the post office,” Grybel said. “And we do have staff over there, and the police department will monitor it on a regular basis; it’s lit on a major thoroughfare, so it’s pretty safe over there.”
On Saturday, the eighth annual “Military Appreciation Day” will kick off with the 2 p.m. “Salute to Our Military ‘Past & Present’” with the Ford Chorus. A former festival regular, Duane Malinowski, returns this year to do a 4-6 p.m. polka segment, and the Men In Black will finish up the evening.
The Ford Chorus will perform on the main entertainment stage the themes of each of the military branches, according to Grybel, “and it’s a very moving, uplifting display.” He said the city wants as many of its residents as possible to attend “to show the military in the community, and around the country and the world, that we in Dearborn Heights definitely appreciate all the things that they do for us in the most difficult times that we are experiencing throughout the world.”
The Syrena Polish Dancers will follow on stage with a 3:30-4 p.m. warmup for Duane Malinowski’s Polka Band.
“Duane hasn’t been with us for a couple years, and has been here a couple of years, and we’re very pleased to welcome Duane back,” Grybel said. “We want people to know that.”
Men In Black mainly plays Top 40 from the 1970s and 1980s, “some very recognizable music,” he said. After Grybel saw them at last year’s St. Linus Festival Saturday evening concert, the band was invited to make its Spirit debut at this year’s Saturday closeout (with an 8-8:10 p.m. concert break for the Crestwood Pom Pon Squad).
The only midway activities happening in the front lawn area this year, Grybel said, will be free workshops taking place under the children’s tent. One program making its debut at this year’s festival is being partnered by the Dearborn Heights Parks and Recreation Department and Detroit Institute of Arts from 3-6 p.m. Saturday. DIA staff will instruct children in the art of kite-making.
Home Depot will return from 3-6 p.m. Sunday, he said, with the same craft workshop it has held at the festival for years. Children can use hammers and glue to construct the projects provided by Home Depot, “and who knows, they may make something special for Dad, because Dad’s day is coming up very shortly.”
Following the pancake breakfast, the Sunday activities of the Spirit Fest under the entertainment tent will move on to the Sandy Adams Dance Revue from 1-2 p.m., and then an Elvis impersonator will perform his award-winning tribute to the King of Rock ‘n Roll until the 50th Anniversary Ceremony. The festival closeout by British Beat 66 will also include one final appearance on stage by the Crestwood High School Cheerleaders during a 6:50-7 p.m. break.
Antonio’s returns as the festival’s major sponsor. Though Grybel added they are too many to name, well over 20 local businesses sponsor the entertainment throughout the weekend.
“This is how we’re able to bring what we consider a first-class festival at such an affordable cost,” Grybel said. “Not only to our residents, but to other visitors from neighboring communities.
“Quite honestly, all of our entertainment is free,” he said.
For further information on Spirit 2013, call the Spirit Hotline at 791-3607.