Seven Ways to Spend New Year’s Eve Pure Michigan Style

It seems like just yesterday we were ringing in 2014 and looking forward to another great year in Pure Michigan. But don’t get nostalgic just yet – this year’s fun is far from over! If you’re looking for a great New Year’s Eve event to attend in Michigan, check out these seven events happening around the state.

Marquette Ball Drop

New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, Marquette
Every New Year’s Eve, the intersection of Washington Street and Front Street becomes the location where locals and visitors come together in a large crowd to welcome in the New Year. On the 12th strike, an illuminated ball is lowered from the historic Savings Bank Building. This year will mark the 26th anniversary of ringing in the New Year Marquette style!

Hot New Year’s Eve Celebration, Grand Rapids
If you’re looking for music, dancing and fun on New Year’s Eve, look no further than Grand Rapids! This year’s Hot New Year’s Eve Celebration will include Cobra Starship, The Outer Vibe, Dyllan Murray, and Grand Rapids Got Talent winner, Fire Alarm. There will also be the annual ball drop at midnight. Just in case you get a little cold, there will be a warming tent with free hot chocolate and coffee for all who pass through.

Midnight-on-Main_Countdown-300x168Midnight on Main New Year’s Celebration, Midland
One of the Michigan’s largest New Year celebrations can be found in the heart of the state – Midland!! It’s Midnight on Main, but the party begins long before midnight with a full schedule of entertainment and activities. The event features four heated tents, 10 bars, food vendors, Michigan’s largest ball drop and an exciting fireworks display. The event is held on Main Street, from Gordon Street to Townsend Street, in Downtown Midland. Midnight on Main is a ticketed event for ages 21+.

Charlevoix Bridge Drop, Charlevoix
Celebrate New Year’s Eve with a bang! Charlevoix’s second annual Bridge Drop will ring in 2015 with a downtown party full of festivities and fun. Daytime family friendly activities include a winter petting zoo, camel rides, snowman building, food trucks, s’mores and bonfires. The evening’s events of live music and activities throughout Charlevoix’s restaurants, bars and shops will culminate with the “bridge drop” and firework display at midnight. Fun for all, and all for fun!

NYE-in-Pure-Ludington2015 New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, Ludington
Beginning at 9:30 p.m., make your way to the North James Street Plaza in Ludington where you’ll enjoy music, an entertainment tent, commemorative light-up glasses, fireworks, and of course, Michigan’s largest environmentally friendly New Year’s Eve Ball.  Bring your family and friends to experience this amazing night! If you’re looking for something to do before the festivities, don’t forget about the Resolution Run 5K also taking place at 9 a.m. at the OJ DeJonge Middle School North Gym.

Cherry Ball Drop, Traverse City
Ring in the New Year in beautiful downtown Traverse City and watch a giant cherry drop as 2015 begins! The event will also feature Magic 4 Humans at Traverse City Opera House) and Magic at Midnight at Top of the Park (both are ticketed events). If you’re looking for a New Year’s Eve celebration in Northern Michigan, the annual Cherry Ball Drop is the event for you!

New Year’s Eve Anchor Drop, Port Huron
Ring in the New Year in the city of Port Huron! The New Year’s Eve Anchor Drop is a New Year’s countdown party with a maritime twist. A lighted anchor will drop from the top of the 150-foot McMorran Tower at midnight! Live music, beer tent, free open skating, and much more.

 For a complete list of events happening on New Year’s Eve, visit michigan.org/events. How are you planning to celebrate the new year near you? 

Twelve Nights of Michigan Bright

The holidays are coming up fast, and there’s no better way to celebrate than by jumping in your car and looking for Michigan’s brightest spots. Guest blogger Maureen Clemons from The Awesome Mitten has located some of the best holiday light displays around the Mitten – one for each of the 12 days of Christmas:

Campus Martius

  1. Campus Martius: Your to-do list at Campus Martius includes renting some skates and gliding around Detroit’s best rink while gazing at Detroit’s biggest and brightest Christmas tree. Afterwards stop by The Snowman Collection (an igloo full of decked out snow men) and grab a hot chocolate from Fountain Bistro. Make sure to park on Woodward because buildings are lit up all along that avenue as well!
  1. Wonderland of Lights: Potter Park Zoo in Lansing also offers lots of animals made out of lights and animals in real exhibits. They also have cookies, crafts and live entertainment. While you’re so close, make sure to check out Michigan’s official Christmas tree at the capital complete with over 9,000 lights!
  1. Wayne County Lightfest: Celebrating 21 years of being bright (and merry), Hines Park is lit up with over 50 animated light displays. This year they’ve got a new 40 foot snowman. Your car can enter on Merriman Road in Westland and see over four miles of Christmas fun.
  1. Adam’s Castle: Royalty lives among us – in Bloomfield Hills. Take Adams to Adam’s Castle Drive (in between Big Beaver and Wattles) and drive until you reach the dead end that is Adam’s Castle. It’s always decorated to impress. Make sure you grab some hot chocolate from Birmingham Chocolate before heading over.

Detroit Zoo Lights

  1. Wild Lights: The Detroit Zoo gets wild every December with their half mile light trail. You’ll see stars, butterflies, turtles, bears and tunnels made of bright bulbs. Stop in the Reptile House to warm up or visit the Wild Adventure Zone to see The Polar Express in 4D. They sell seasonal drinks and snacks too.
  1. Edsel & Eleanor Ford House: A historical site to see all year round, but especially special during the holiday season – the Ford House in Grosse Pointe beckons to you with canopies of lights and the promise of Santa. You’ll see over 80,000 bulbs and maybe even some carolers. For the adults in attendance, there will be some mulled wine.
  1. Huckleberry Crossroads: Hop on the Huckleberry Railroad to ride through lots of lights. If you’d rather take your own car, there is a drive through option as well!
  1. Christmas Lite Show: Over a mile of light displays make up one of Michigan’s largest displays in Grand Rapids. At the end you are promised a picture with Santa. And for convenience there is a Biggby Coffee right next door!
  1. Frederik Meijer Christmas Trees: For all the visual learners out there, Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids offers a unique opportunity to see Christmas trees and displays from over 40 countries. You’ll also be able to observe over 300,000 lights, carolers and horse drawn carriage rides. And check out their calendar for a chance to meet Santa’s real reindeer!Rochester Lights
  1.  Downtown Rochester: Every building gets a different color store front – complete with string lights hanging down over the whole thing. They call it the Big, Bright Light Show and it doesn’t disappoint! This year, you can visit all the way through the end of January. Don’t forget to stop at Dessert Oasis Cafe to get your hot chocolate on.
  1. Christmas in Lights: The citizens of Iron River enter their decked out homes in a best lights competition and the city creates a map – everyone votes for their favorite! Even though the official voting period is over, grab a map and visit all the contenders/winners.
  1. International Festival of Lights: Throughout December in Battle Creek you can witness tons of light structures on the Battle Creek River along State Street. Every weekend they’ve got special events like the Holiday Extravaganza full of live entertainment on December 20th.

Clemons_PicAre there any other light displays or even houses that you visit every year?

Maureen Clemmons is your resident Royal Oak local (Royalocal), beer drinker, concert goer, road tripper, ice cream advocate, cat lover, and MSU Spartan. Learn more on Twitter, @moreangrim.

Seven Michigan Holiday Movies Worth a Watch

Photo by Heather McFarland, Garland Resort

Photo by Heather McFarland, Garland Resort

With the holidays just around the corner, what could be better than an evening spent curled up on the couch with a steaming mug of hot cocoa and some classic holiday flicks?

If a cozy night in is on your agenda in the coming weeks, give this list of holiday movies with ties to Michigan a look. Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan shares seven Michigan holiday films worth a watch this season. 

The Polar Express
Written by Grand Rapids native Chris Van Allsburg and prominently featuring the city and noted businesses like Herpolsheimer’s downtown department store, this classic movie celebrates its 10th year in 2014.

Polar_expressThe star of the show is the Pere Marquette 1225, a steam locomotive which was recently restored and put back in operation in 2013 at the Steam Railroad Institute in Owosso. Seasonal excursions aboard the “North Pole Express” are extremely popular with families, selling out in advance of the holiday season.

One of the animated elves was played by actor Ed Gale, who graduated from Plainwell High School in the 1980s. (Ed also appeared in “Call Me Claus” and “Santa, Jr.”).

The world premiere of The Polar Express was held in 2004 at Celebration Cinema IMAX in Grand Rapids, with an elaborate post viewing party at DeVos Place downtown. Actor Peter Scolari (who played the “lonely boy” Billy) and Van Allsburg were both in attendance for the festivities, along with Santa Claus (of course).

Prancer
Filmed in the Berrien County town of Three Oaks, this 1989 film starred Sam Elliott, Cloris Leachman and young Rebecca Harrell—an eight year old farm girl who discovers one of Santa’s reindeer has fallen from a downtown decoration and come to life. She later nurses the wounded reindeer, hoping to bring it back to health in time for Christmas, while inspiring the community with her spirit. Prancer celebrates its 25th anniversary this year!

The Santa Clause (I, II and III)
SantaClause2All starring Tim Allen, who was raised in southeast Michigan, attended Western Michigan University, has owned several homes around the state and is the voice of the Pure Michigan TV and radio ads. The movie itself is actually set in Chicago.

The trilogy was first introduced 20 years ago in 1994 (followed by sequels in 2004 and 2006), the story follows the life of Scott Calvin—who inadvertently kills Santa on Christmas eve and magically finds himself taking over the role of the big guy himself.

Sequel #1 shows Scott Calvin settling well into his role as Santa, but a new twist may bring his reign to an end if he doesn’t find a Mrs. Claus before Christmas Eve. Sequel #2—The Escape Claus follows Santa and Mrs. (Carol) Claus and the pending arrival of their first child together, as well as a plot by Jack Frost to take over the helm at the North Pole.

The Christmas Bunny
Filmed entirely in Michigan, this is the story of a lonely foster child who finds a lost, injured rabbit in the woods on Christmas Eve. The animal is nursed back to health by the eccentric “Bunny Lady” (played by Florence Henderson), who runs a rabbit rescue in an old barn behind her Michigan farmhouse.

The movie was filmed during a snowy February and March, 2010 in several West Michigan rural towns—including Lowell, Alto, Wyoming and Zeeland. It was directed by Grand Rapids native Tom Seidman (Ordinary People, Dead Poets Society), and was his first movie filmed in West Michigan.

Silver Bells
SilverBellsProduced in association with the Salvation Army and filmed in Manistee, Grand Rapids and Ludington, this 2013 film stars Bruce Boxleitner (Scarecrow & Mrs. King, Babylon 5).

According to a production release, the holiday story revolves around a hyper-competitive feather and overly win-driven sportscaster who goes too far and must perform community service as a bell ringer. Through his work with the Salvation Army, he discovers the true meaning of Christmas. The charity played a pivotal role throughout the film as the family volunteers with the organization in various ways.

Michigan filmmaker Harold Cronk directed the project and 10 West Studios lead the prost production efforts to keep the entire project in Michigan, qualifying it for state film incentives.

Do you know any other holiday favorites that have ties to Michigan? 

Dianna Stampfler is the president of Promote Michigan and former board member of the West Michigan Film Video Alliance.