Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Lights, food and entertainment abound at Blossom Heath

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published December 8, 2021

 The Blossom Heath Beach House is decorated like a winter wonderland castle.

The Blossom Heath Beach House is decorated like a winter wonderland castle.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


ST. CLAIR SHORES — In the midst of the first holiday season during the COVID pandemic, a holiday bright spot was the first Tunnel of Lights at Blossom Heath Park.

The event was so popular that it’s back for 2021, bigger and better than before.

“We saw how well the community responded to the lights and the number of people that were showing up and really enjoying themselves out there,” said Richard Widgren, the chair of the Tax Increment Finance Authority, or TIFA. “It just looked like there was room for us to do a little bit more.”

Whereas in 2020, there was just a tunnel of lights proceeding from the entrance to Blossom Heath Park, 24800 Jefferson Ave., on the southernmost walkway up to the beach house, TIFA, in conjunction with St. Clair Shores Parks and Recreation, decided to double the tunnel for 2021, adding it to the northern portion of the walkway that rings the park.

“We thought that the front, Wahby Park, area could have a little more done to it, and we filled it up,” he said, adding that TIFA also made sure there were lights added along Jefferson Avenue to lead to the park. “Now you have kind of a pathway to lead you into Blossom Heath and see the front of the park at Wahby and then go in the back and see the real show in the back.

“We hope those who came last year enjoyed it so much that they want to come back and they’ll see even more this year.”

The Tunnel is entertaining visitors for one week longer in 2021, as well, lighting up the night from 5 to 9 p.m. through Jan. 9.

“Last year, it was our first year, and with the success that we had of it last year, there (were) a lot of people involved that wanted to take it up another level,” said Rob Spinazzola, deputy director of St. Clair Shores Parks and Recreation.

In addition to adding more lights, the Blossom Heath Beach House has been transformed into a “winter wonderland castle” where Santa Claus is greeting children from the rooftop from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 18. Red and green panels and lights have been added to the outside of the beach house, and stockings have been hung by the fireplace. There are also mailboxes where children can send their letters to Santa Claus.

“It’s a nice thing to give back to the community, where people can go out and listen to Christmas music, enjoy the outside and get a bite to eat on certain evenings,” Spinazzola said. “On the nights that we don’t have live, in-person entertainment, music will be playing through the beach house that you’ll be able to hear as you walk around.”

There will be food trucks on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and hot chocolate will be available for purchase Wednesday-Sunday. Casali School of Dance Holiday Dancers will perform Dec. 10 at 6:45 p.m. There will be a musical performance from Violet Elementary at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 11, Holiday Voices Christmas carolers Dec. 18 and 19 beginning at 5:30 p.m., and a performance by Jeff Cavataio at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 17.

There will also be a Holiday Market from noon to 9 p.m. Dec. 12 that will include the Casali dancers at 12 p.m. and Jeff Cavataio at 6:30 p.m., food trucks and a beer tent. Throughout the season, food trucks include Endless Pastabilities, Batter Up Waffle, Little Donut Factory, BBQ Daddy, Grillwich Tot Stop and more. For a full schedule, check out the St. Clair Shores Parks and Recreation Facebook page.

“Last year, being our first year, we didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “With COVID going on, there (weren’t) a lot of things people could get out and do. It ended up being very popular.”

Along with TIFA, other sponsors of the event include Landscape Services, Ihrie O’Brien, Paul Genaw Insurance, Hadley Real Estate, Michael Agnello Jewelers, St. Clair Shores Hockey Association and Stonik Services.

Widgren said TIFA normally budgets about $15,000 annually for holiday lights along the Nautical Mile. This year, the amount to be spent by TIFA is closer to $35,000, but the total cost of the decorations is more because of additional sponsorships. He said the 2022 holiday season would likely even be bigger than this year because it will hopefully include additional decorations for the activity pier being constructed at Blossom Heath.

“TIFA is there in the first place ... to upgrade a geographical area in the city by reinvesting their tax dollars in the area,” he said. “The Blossom Heath initiative is being driven by the interests of the citizenry. People are finding a place they want to go.”

The upgrades TIFA has made through the years have brought upgrades to the Nautical Mile for the benefit of the area businesses, Widgren said, and now the attraction that Blossom Heath is becoming gives the businesses an opportunity to benefit from those who stick around after enjoying the park’s amenities to eat, drink or shop.

“We’re going to have a very unique place in southeast Michigan for the people who come to St. Clair Shores,” he said.