Detroit's Winter Blast is coming back. The event that was the heart of
the Super Bowl XL celebrations for so many ticket-less metro
Detroiters is returning for its third installment, and organizers say
it's a chance to celebrate winter, and the city.
fact, Jonathan Witz, president of Jonathan Witz & Associates and
the mastermind behind the event, says that even if all you do is
walk from your car to a restaurant or theater, you can say you were part of the
don't have to necessarily skate or do the slide. If you do Detroit, you
do the winter blast," Witz says. "There are just so many great messages
about the value of the city in this event. Our message is, 'If you go
to Atlas Global Bistro
and the Gem Theatre
for the new musical Respect
, you've done the winter blast.' "
From Feb. 9-11, the
street party includes music stages, marshmallow roasting, dog sled
teams, ice sculptures, free ice skating at Campus Martius, a taste of
Detroit dining area, shopping — and don't forget the pièce de
résistance, the big, 200-foot snow slide.
"It's all about
embracing Detroit's true qualities. And one of those things is that we
have cold winters," says Jim Townsend, executive director of the Tourism Economic
Development Council, a public-private partnership that works to boost
tourism spending in metro Detroit.
The Winter Blast can also be something of a hair of the dog for Detroiters suffering a hangover effect between big
national events here. Bringing back the Blast is a way to remind
everyone that what we accomplished during the Super Bowl — a sparkling
downtown and a big party that drew participants from all over the
region — wasn't a flash in the pan, Townsend says.
Winter Blast, he says, "is both symbolic as well as a real substantive
strategy to not let us go into these lulls where there's nothing going
"It's great to stage these big international events,"
Townsend continues, "but they leave a hangover that's deepened by the
fact that we're still building up Detroit's attraction. It's not where
we want it to be yet, so we have to try harder — and we have to keep
creating events to drive people downtown."
The event attracted more than 200,000 people for its debut in 2005 and
1.2 million Detroiters and visitors during Super Bowl XL weekend in
This year's Winter Blast will span 11 city blocks. Along with food
from 25 restaurants, live music from 60 bands, and special
family-oriented activities, there will also be a Pure Michigan exhibit,
located in the Compuware Building atrium, featuring activities and
talent from across the state.
Witz says that in
'08, there's talk of expanding the event even further, making it a
weeklong extravaganza and something that could attract people to
Detroit from all over the region.
For a complete list of events and more details, go to: www.motownwinterblast.com
Campus Martius skating photographs copyright Dave Krieger