Madison Heights ready for fireworks, live music

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published June 21, 2022


MADISON HEIGHTS — After a two-year absence, the Festival in the Park is set to return the weekend before Independence Day.

The fun begins at 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 26 at Civic Center Park, behind Madison Heights City Hall on the north side of 13 Mile Road, west of John R Road.

One of the most popular events in town, there will be fireworks at dusk, as well as live music, food vendors, games and more. The festivities will wrap up at 10:30 p.m., as the fireworks crescendo to an end.

“I’m thrilled that after two years, we are again hosting our Festival in the Park, complete with fireworks,” said Madison Heights Mayor Roslyn Grafstein.

As with many programs, the festival was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. For its return this year, the eight-piece band Stiletto Fire will perform at the center of the park, on a stage provided by Oakland County. Guests can watch from the grass or nearby pavilions while enjoying a family-friendly mix of new and old favorites.

“Stiletto Fire performed for the city of Madison Heights in 2018, and did such a great job that we invited them back this year,” said Brooke Heisler, the city’s recreation coordinator, via email.

Oakland County Parks will be operating free inflatables for younger kids. Socks must be worn while using the inflatables. A pair of socks can be bought for $1. The inflatables include an obstacle course and the standard bouncer, as well as a dinosaur-themed slide. These will be located on the lawn towards the front of the park, closer to 13 Mile Road.

Festivalgoers can also look forward to Rope-A-Phobia, by Allen Entertainment. Billed as an “extreme experience” and the only “high-ropes course” in Michigan, participants strap on a harness, click into an overhead track and climb a cargo net to a platform 11 feet above the ground. They then face a number of challenges, culminating in a slide down a fireman’s pole, all while connected to an auto-belay system that safely lowers them to the ground if they fall.

The course can accommodate up to 12 people at the same time. Each round usually takes several minutes. Harnesses will be sized to accommodate most ages; participants must weigh more than 50 pounds, and be at least 4 feet tall.

Allen Entertainment will also bring its rock-climbing wall and “Extreme Air Jumpers.” Organizers say that climbers as young as 3 and as old as 82 have successfully completed the rock-climbing challenge.

As for the jumpers, located on either side of the rock wall, participants harness up and are attached to two flexible fiberglass poles. They begin to jump on the inflated trampoline jumpers as the operators engage the lifting arms. Once the bungee motion kicks in, the jumpers enjoy a sense of weightlessness high in the air.

The high-ropes course, the rock-climbing wall and the jumpers can all be found in the parking lot by the ballfield.

All of the physical activity is sure to work up an appetite, which can be satiated with a variety of food trucks, including Go Cheese, and four other trucks provided by Jackson Five Star Catering. They will be serving carnival favorites such as elephant ears and freshly squeezed lemonade.

Everything leads up to the fireworks, handled this year by Pyrotecnico, whose portfolio includes the Superbowl. The show will feature 1,000 aerial display shells, ranging in size from 1 1/4 inches to 6 inches in diameter.

“They have designed a show specifically for Madison Heights, and we’re very excited to see what they deliver,” Heisler said, noting that the fireworks show will last about 17 minutes. “The fireworks festival is truly a staple to the Madison Heights community. It’s a night that brings out family, friends and neighbors alike.”

Adam Owczarzak, assistant to the city manager of Madison Heights, said in an email that the fireworks will cost the city $12,000.

“The fireworks festival has been a long-standing tradition in the city that many residents have come to look forward to and enjoy,” Owczarzak said. “It’s a chance for the whole community to gather together and celebrate the holiday.”

Emily Rohrbach, a member of the Madison Heights City Council, said in an email that her family loves the Festival in the Park.

“I’m so excited we’re finally able to bring it back,” Rohrbach said. “I’m looking forward to seeing our residents out and about. I’ll have a table set up at the festival, so please come by and say hello!”

She also reflected on how the city has continued to rise to the challenge of finding ways to hold fun events amid the pandemic.

“Our staff, council and community members looked for every opportunity to bring us together virtually, socially distanced, and with innovation,” Rohrbach said.

In addition to the Festival in the Park, other recent examples have been the city’s Juneteenth celebration and Arts & Pride event. This fall will also see the continuation of the outdoor strolling music festival Trail Tunes, which began in 2020 as a socially distanced way to enjoy bands set up around Civic Center Park.

“Not only that, but our Recreation Department was able to pivot and make changes so that community members were able to continue to benefit from programs and services as we weathered the storm of the past two years,” Rohrbach said.

She also praised the city’s ability to manage public-private partnerships, individual and corporate donations, and other funding sources to finance the events.

“We’ve even upgraded our bond rating to AA (through S&P Global Ratings), which says a lot about our ability to continue to invest and grow for the future,” she said.

She also pointed to the passage of Proposal MH in 2019, which increased funding for police and fire services and allowed the city to improve parks and recreation programs and services, invest in more trees, and begin the largest capital improvement project in the city’s history, with the renovations at City Hall, the library next door and the construction of a new Active Adult Center between them, as well as improvements coming to Fire Station No. 2 — “all while the overall millage rate for our residents has gone down for the upcoming fiscal year,” she said.

“As a council, we’re working well together to make sound financial decisions that have a long-term vision of prosperity for our future as a community,” Rohrbach said.