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Noel Night lights up midtown Detroit

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published December 13, 2019

 The Snow Queen makes an appearance in the Prentis Court of the Detroit Institute of Arts for the museum’s Noel Night festivities Dec. 7.

The Snow Queen makes an appearance in the Prentis Court of the Detroit Institute of Arts for the museum’s Noel Night festivities Dec. 7.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 The Wayne State University Swing Dancers cut a rug on the Streets of Old Detroit within the Detroit Historical Museum for the museum’s annual sock hop, which it hosts as part of Noel Night.

The Wayne State University Swing Dancers cut a rug on the Streets of Old Detroit within the Detroit Historical Museum for the museum’s annual sock hop, which it hosts as part of Noel Night.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Santa and Mrs. Claus stop by the America’s Motor City exhibit at the Detroit Historical Museum in honor of Noel Night Dec. 7.

Santa and Mrs. Claus stop by the America’s Motor City exhibit at the Detroit Historical Museum in honor of Noel Night Dec. 7.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

DETROIT — Midtown Detroit shared its best offerings for the holidays Dec. 7 during the 47th annual Noel Night.

Noel Night is a celebration of the midtown area’s small businesses and arts and cultural centers.

“Noel Night is a holiday open house in midtown Detroit. … This is a great opportunity, because everyone is showing off what they are offering, and people get to see the city’s art, attractions, food and architecture,” said Annmarie Borucki, the director of arts and culture for Midtown Detroit Inc., which organizes the event. “This is our 47th year, and it highlights all the attractions there: our historic churches, local musicians, our small businesses, and our arts and cultural institutions. It’s become part of a lot of people’s holiday traditions, and it’s a great way to kick off the holiday season.”

It’s one of the largest yearly events for local businesses in the midtown area. Among them was Tim Costello, the co-owner of 8 Degrees Plato Beer Co.

“This will be our fourth year taking part in Noel Night,” he said just before the event. “We have a beer tent outside the DIA and are featuring local Detroit breweries. We will have Valentine Vodka making craft cocktails, and music by the Jason Gittinger Trio performing in the store.”

Costello said Noel Night means a big boost to businesses and the opportunity to bring people inside who might have never heard of his business before.

“For us, it means we get to see a lot of people who we don’t see most of the rest of the year,” he said. “We’re very much a community-based venue. It’s a great way for people to come in and get a beer and enjoy the whole Cass corridor area.”

Costello said he loved attending Noel Night even before his business moved to the city and he became involved in it.

“I think it’s had a very positive impact on downtown Detroit,” he said. “Even before we moved down here, I would come down here just to enjoy Noel Night. With the music and shops and everything else, it’s a very fun night.”

Flo Boutique is another midtown business that has taken part in the event for several years. Creating clothing for men and women, it regularly supports local artists and features their creations in the store. Owner Felicia Patrick said the boutique tries to bring that same attitude to Noel Night each year.

“We always have a live DJ for Noel Night,” she said. “We had dancing live mannequins in the windows.”

Noel Night recently expanded its hours so that it takes place in both the afternoon and evening. Patrick said this meant an adjustment for attendees, but it gave hosts like her more opportunities to meet members of the community and potential customers.

“Noel Night has become a more family-oriented event in recent years, and it gets more people out to midtown. We changed the hours this year, so people had to get used to it being in both the day and nighttime. These new hours did give a lot of people down here the chance to expand what they offer for the event,” Patrick said. “This year went very well. Compared to three or four years ago, the numbers have gone up so much. I think the different hours mean some readjustment, but things were still very crowded.”

The event also gives Detroit landmarks such as the Detroit Institute of Arts and Wayne State University the chance to highlight their contributions to the community.

Among the longest-running supporters of Noel Night is the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Its public programming director, Charles Ferrell, said Noel Night is an important opportunity for the Detroit area and a great time during the busy Christmas season.

“We have a long-standing relationship with Noel Night and Midtown Detroit Inc. I think Noel Night is an opportunity for a great diversity of cultural exchanges and to showcase the wonderful talent in the metro Detroit area,” said Farrell. “There’s so much for people to see across the community. There’s music, dance, shopping and attractions like the traditional African American Santa we host here at the museum. We love being able to invite people into the city for a cultural exchange like this.”

Ferrell added that some of the area’s best musicians and artists get the spotlight during the event.

“We are an anchor institution for the day,” he said. “We engage many community partners in delivering a day of music, dance, spoken word, and arts and crafts. The Etienne Charles Trio from Michigan State (University performed) their Creole Soul concert at 6 p.m. here at the museum. It’s all part of bringing together the whole cultural center area.”

Despite the cold weather outside, Borucki said the event demonstrated some of the hottest offerings that Detroit can provide.

“You won’t find more attractions crammed into a 1-mile area at any other time in Michigan,” she said. “It’s such a wonderful time for everyone.”