2012 North American International Auto Show Preview

The 2012 North American International Auto Show opens to the public this weekend in Detroit, where you can check out more than 500 vehicles on display. The public event runs from January 14 – 22. Be sure to check out the Pure Michigan booth on the first floor of the show and head down a level to visit the Pure Michigan Ride and Drive Track–a quarter-mile indoor ride-and-drive test track surrounded by landscaped and forested terrain, where visitors can take a ride in electric and hybrid vehicles. We’ll have more on Pure Michigan at the show later this week.

Today, check out a quick summary of new vehicles and announcements from Detroit’s big three automakers – General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

General Motors
GM began its announcements on Sunday with the reveal of the Cadillac ATS, a sports sedan built on the legacy of the acclaimed CTS-V Series. The vehicle’s dynamics were refined during countless hours of racetrack testing and Cadillac expects the sedan to rival Europe’s finest vehicles.

On Monday, Chevrolet introduced two concept vehicles aimed at the next-generation of car buyers, the Code 130R and the Tru 140S. Chevrolet will take these concepts to major auto shows and other events and venues and use social media tools to gather feedback from young car buyers – in fact, people under 30 represent 40 percent of today’s potential car-buying public.

Just today, Buick introduced the 2013 Buick Encore, a luxury small crossover that has Buick’s signature styling, along with refined interior acoustics. The Encore will begin arriving at U.S. Buick dealerships in the first quarter of 2013.

Ford
During its press conference at Joe Louis Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings and right next to the Auto Show’s home of Cobo Arena, Ford unveiled its all-new 2013 Ford Fusion, a midsize sedan that will offer gasoline, hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains, each with expected top fuel economy. The car also has some helpful technologies such as a Lane Keeping System to keep you in proper lane position and Active Park Assist to help you parallel park.

Today, the Lincoln brand introduced the Lincoln MKZ Concept, a four-seat vehicle that shows the next step in Lincoln’s reinvention. Many of the team members begin working this year in a new Lincoln Design Studio in Dearborn, which began construction in early 2011 and will house more than 180 employees in a creative space.

Chrysler
On Monday, Chrysler introduced the all-new 2013 Dodge Dart, a compact sedan that is Chrysler’s first vehicle built on the Fiat Group architecture. It offers 12 exterior colors, 14 interior color and trim options, three powerful, fuel-efficient engines and three transmission choices for plenty of customization. Production of the 2013 Dodge Dart will begin in the second quarter of 2012.

Check out some photos from the show floor in our Flickr gallery below, and be sure to like the Pure Michigan Car Culture page on Facebook for more automotive news.

Pure Michigan Holiday Tree Lightings

Photo by Valerie Hoffman

Today, nothing evokes the holiday spirit quite like a brightly-lit tree, but light wasn’t part of the original concept.  The celebratory tree tradition traces all the way back to decidedly low-tech 15th century Germany.  The first instance of decorative light – in the form of wax candles – wasn’t recorded for another 300 years.

Candle-lit holiday trees took off as an American tradition after 1850, when a drawing of Queen Victoria’s “Christmas Tree” appeared in Philadelphia’s “Godey’s Lady’s Book.”  Electric lights became a popular trimming after President Coolidge flipped the switch on the first “National Christmas Tree” in 1923.

If you can’t make it to Washington for the lighting of the 89th National Christmas Tree this December 1, there are plenty of towns across Michigan hosting their own tree lighting ceremonies this month and next.  The list below likely includes a celebration near you.

Grand Haven Light Night
November 18, Grand Haven
Enjoy downtown Grand Haven as the lights begin to turn on in the trees for the first time in the holiday season. Participating stores will be holding their holiday open houses with excellent ideas for everyone on your holiday list.

Silver Bells in the City
November 18, Lansing
Celebrate the season with 80,000 attendees of downtown Lansing’s annual electric light parade, including the lighting of Michigan’s official Christmas tree and a beautiful fireworks display cascading over the capitol dome.

Christmas in the Village
November 18 – 19, Manchester
This Manchester event features horse-drawn wagon rides, a parade, Santa greetings, a bake sale, and the annual Christmas tree lighting.

Frankenmuth Holiday Celebration & Candlewalk
November 25, Frankenmuth
The perfect way to start the Christmas season. Hot chocolate and cookies at 6pm. Candlewalk from the River Place to the Chamber Platz for the lighting of the Tannenbaum. Santa will be in the Pavilion from 6:30-8:30pm on Friday, November 25.

Santa’s Arrival & Tree Lighting
November 25, Plymouth
Santa arrives in Kellogg Park, November 25 at 5:40pm with a Christmas carol sing-a-long and tree lighting to follow. After caroling, Santa will be escorted to his house.

Au Gres Chamber of Commerce Annual Christmas Parade
November 26, Au Gres
The tree lighting starts at 5:45 pm, followed by Christmas Parade at 6.  The parade ends at Au Gres City Pavilion, on North Main Street with hot chocolate and Santa visits!

Family Christmas – Muskegon
November 26, Muskegon
Hackley Park hosts the Muskegon tree lighting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Santa will be there, and hot chocolate and hot dogs available for purchase.

Festival of Lights
November 26, Pentwater
Pentwater is decorated for the season with shopping, dining, carolers, music, chestnuts roasting, horse drawn carriage rides and other fun scheduled throughout the day.  The Pentwater tree lighting and Santa’s arrival takes place on the Village Green at 5 pm.

Santa’s Arrival and Courthouse Lighting
November 29, Midland
Santa’s arrival parade starts at the Tridge at 7:00 pm, followed by the Courthouse lighting ceremony and the opening of Santa’s magical house on Main Street.

Les Cheneaux Old Fashion Christmas
November 25 – December 4, Les Cheneaux
Tree lightings take place on the 25th and 26th, with the Les Cheneaux Holiday Arts and Crafts Bazaar on November 26.

Goodrich’s Downtown Christmas
December 1, Goodrich
The Goodrich tree lighting ceremony includes Santa, choirs, carol singing and the reading of the Christmas story. Throughout the downtown area there will be street vendors, music and more.

Santa’s Arrival in Traverse City
December 2, Traverse City
Santa will join the carols, receive the key to his house from the Traverse City Mayor and then help light the tree at 6 pm, before spending the rest of the evening (6-8 pm) visiting the little ones at his holiday house across at Cass and Front Streets.

Cadillac’s Downtown Storybook Christmas
December 2 – 3, Cadillac
Downtown Cadillac will bustle with activity all weekend. Enjoy store specials, holiday menus and Santa’s arrival before Christmas trees are lit around the lake front.

Victorian Sleigh Bell Parade & Old Christmas Weekend – Manistee
December 1 – 4, Manistee
The Festival of Trees follows an authentic Victorian parade complete with period costumes and horse-drawn units.

Lexington Christmas Tree Lighting & Merchant Candle Walk
December 3, Lexington
Join in the Lexington Christmas Tree Lighting and merchant Candle Walk. Santa arrives at 7 pm, followed by a sing along, trolley rides and more.

Circle of Trees – North Muskegon
December 4, Muskegon
Walker Park in North Muskegon hosts the annual Circle of Trees, including a lighting ceremony, dog parade and community carol sing-a-long.

The Big, Bright Light Show – Rochester
November 28, 2011 – January 1, 2012, Rochester
All the buildings on Main Street from the south bridge to Romeo Rd. will be covered in over a million points of light, along with East and West Fourth Street. Also, there will be large, lighted displays on Walnut from Third to University, The Dazzling Tree of Lights at the Depot Plaza (E. University & Water), and The Snowflake Spectacular on the Western Knitting Mill on Water Street.

Nostalgic Football Weekend

Emily Tennyson, a contributing writer for Michigan Travel Ideas, cheers on her alma mater during a football-weekend trip with her husband.

As a proud Michigan alum, I love to visit nearby Ann Arbor, especially now that I don’t have to take exams. My husband, a fellow Wolverine, also enjoys trips to his alma mater, especially for sporting events. While I’m a (fairly) devoted Wolverine, Ann Arbor caters to my more artsy side. I opt out of the game and use the time to explore the eclectic shops and art galleries.

When planning our last-minute weekend getaway, I knew that on-campus lodging would be overbooked and spendy due to the game, so I moved to Plan B. On State Street, the Comfort Inn & Suites offers a Michigan Travel Ideas discount; free Internet, a pool and breakfast sweetened the deal.

Once on campus, I explore old haunts. First, at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, I examine Tiffany architectural glass from a demolished early-20th-century Fifth Avenue mansion in Manhattan. Next on the list—cheese shopping at Zingerman’s and a Sister Hazel sub packed with provolone cheese, mushrooms, green peppers, onions and sub sauce at Pizza Bob’s, a favorite college hangout. My husband, meanwhile, bonds with 100,000 new friends in the Big House. After a Michigan win (thank you, Brady Hoke!) the whole city beams.

Alfresco dining at the elegant and contemporary Logan, a tiny storefront bistro on Washington, seems like a great way to celebrate and avoid the college swarm. A toast for the Michigan football victory with our glasses of Viognier starts off the meal. The pan-seared grouper is amazing, but the chocolate mousse dessert is my favorite. Post dinner, we cruise past ivy-covered dorms, throngs of happy coeds and campus bars blaring the Michigan Fight Song. I hum along and throw in a fist pump for good measure, even though my college days are long gone. Deep sigh. Was I ever really 18?

Back at the Comfort Inn, it’s time for a dip in the pool and some relaxation in the hot tub. When we get to our room, my husband turns on the 46-inch flat-screen TV and finds yet another football game. I cozy up in the king-size bed with a book.

The next morning, we head to the sunny breakfast room for our complimentary meal—fresh fruit, cereal, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, bagels and make-your-own waffles. After eating, it is time to check out and bring our fun weekend trip to a close. Our short trip almost makes us feel like college students again. I sigh as the car pulls away and realize that we definitely don’t come here often enough.

Emily Tennyson, devoted University of Michigan alum, relishes any time spent at her alma mater and appreciates a good getaway.