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Get out and explore: Discover color tours, fall traditions and more in Mt. Pleasant

Mt. Pleasant Autumn

Gone are summer days at the beach, baseball games and camping trips.

Those seasonal traditions are traded for fall color tours, trips to apple orchards and pumpkin patches and fall football.

There’s no better place to experience the switch of the seasons than in Mt. Pleasant, the home of Central Michigan University and a city of 26,000 people that balances a small-town feel with a larger than imagined opportunity to continue or start new traditions.

Whether by foot, car, water or hayride, there’s something for everyone in the mid-Michigan region that finds a way to cater to families, college students and weekend travelers with a diverse recreation, dining, cocktail and adventure scene.

During the 100 days of fall, the possibilities open up to explore apple orchards, pumpkin patches and area parks that are ideal for daytime outings to spot all the hues of red, yellow and orange that unfold and provide a relaxing backdrop to an on-the-run lifestyle.

Here are some ideas and top tips for finding your next getaway:

Papa’s Pumpkin Patch: Papa’s is a longtime favorite of those in and around Isabella Papa's Pumpkin Patch donutsCounty. At any age, the patch can be the place to pick out your carving pumpkin, hop on a hayride around the farm and snap those fall pictures that will create memories for years to come. The owners have kept the prices low and structured affordable packages for groups of 10 or more, providing the full experience of a crisp day outdoors.

“This is a wonderful place to go,” said Stephanie Cortes in a review of the patch.

“Always amazing, we go every year,” Rene Peterson weighed in after her visit.

“Shepherd Cheer Team had a GREAT time at the patch! The staff was so accommodating and full of hospitality. We will definitely be back! Thank you!”

Did we mention the donuts?

CMU Football Stadium

Central Michigan Football: The return of the Chippewas to Kelly/Shorts Stadium offers a chance to spend a Pure Michigan classic day in Mt. Pleasant. Start tailgating, transition to  cheering CMU touchdowns and then hit the road for a color tour or find a bite to eat. Plan your outing around the final four home games of the season on Oct. 5, Oct. 12, Nov. 2 or Nov. 29.

Dayhikes and paddling: Mt. Pleasant visitors and residents alike want to pack as much of the fall outdoor fun as they can in daylight hours. The opportunities to hike area parks, including the county’s highest point in Bundy Hill, or take one last leisurely float on the Chippewa River. Use the GKB Riverwalk Trail/Access Adventure Trail or Deerfield Park as other hiking launching points.

Culinary Delights: The fall harvest also gives local restaurants the chance to change menus to feature the flavors of the season. Locally owned shops use the freshest of ingredients on breakfast fare like specialty waffles and that continues into the nightlife with farm-raised beef and produce. For ideas and more information, read: Mt. Pleasant Area Fall Flavor (plus Fun!) Tour.

Make the Top 10: Get those cameras and phones ready for the annual Feels like fall photo contest run by the Mt. Pleasant Convention and Visitors Bureau. The agency kicks off the Instagram competition on Oct. 2 using the @MtPleasantCVB and #FeelsLikeFall tags to show off the best Mt. Pleasant has to offer. Take a look at the images that made the summer Top 10.

Visit meetmtp.com to learn more about Mt. Pleasant and plan your next trip.

Michigan resort offers fall golf deals, plans to light more ski slopes for winter

Otsego golf course

As the fall color season begins to turn northern Michigan into a leafy wonderland, Michelle Norton notes the state’s weather extremes have created conditions for a prolonged explosion of reds, oranges and yellows.

The September warmth being felt across the state is coming at a perfect time for golfers, according to Norton, the director of sales and marketing at the Otsego Resort in Gaylord.

“The stage is set for an incredible blast of color and we’re getting a lot of interest in people trying to squeeze in as much golf as they can,” said Norton.

It also helps that the resort, with two championship level courses in The Tribute and The Classic, has teed up great deals to tee off with two packages that place players on the courses with amazing views over a 20-mile swath of the Sturgeon River Valley. The Tribute winds through the woods and water while The Classic’s wide fairways are as forgiving as the tree-lined courses are beautiful.

“The courses really showcase the valley and all of its beauty,” Norton said.

Otsego Resort leaders have crafted these two offers:

The Tribute deal allows golfers to get in two rounds for the price of one, and The Classic offer costs significantly less than the regular rate for a night in the summer season, Norton said. She also noted that weekday rounds allow for a faster pace of play and give lodging package golfers the ability to maximize the unlimited play.

“We want people to experience some of the best golf in the state under the best circumstances,” she said. “Fall golf gives you better temperatures, you can still play into the evening and it’s an opportunity to focus on your game.”

Lights are coming to Otsego Resort’s back bowl

While the golf season winds down, Norton revealed exciting news for the winter ski season: Resort owners Gary and Kathie Vollmar are continuing to invest in the property by adding lights to the back slopes.

This winter, which will be only the second year that the resort’s slopes are open to the public after being a private club for 78 years, all 29 runs, three terrain parks and five lifts will operate into the night.

“The lights are a wonderful addition to the property, and it’s going to make for tremendous night skiing,” Norton said. “The excitement is building for people who are ready to ski here again or ski us for the first time. It goes right with the saying that we are the state’s oldest new ski resort.”

The property, which is about 1 mile off I-75 and downtown Gaylord, features a natural topography that created Michigan’s best ski bowl. The features allow the resort to start making snow earlier in the season and then keep it longer into the year.

Norton said the plan is to have a soft opening in mid-December and then go into the full season around the holidays. The staff also plans to see how long they can stretch the season into spring.

“We make a lot of snow, we get a lot of snow and we can move it around,” Norton said. “Just like people try to get all the golf in that they can before snow comes, skiers want to stay on the hills until they can’t. We want to be the spot to go at the start and at the end of the season.

The design of the property and the number of lifts also makes for short lines to get to the top of the hill even during peak skiing times. The lodge and its historic Logmark bar, a great restaurant to grab a drink and a bite to eat, sit above the runs instead of the usual shape where guests stare up at a mountain from the bottom of the slopes.

Norton said that resort leaders have held the skiing rates the same as the 2018 despite others in the region raising their prices.

The resort has also added a third tubing lane due to what Norton called an overwhelming response to the activity that appeals to adults as much as it does to kids. The third run shows a commitment to guests, Norton said.

“We know it’s popular, and we want people to be having fun, not waiting in line,” she said.

“We have a constant focus on what we can do to make a visit here the best possible experience. The Vollmars want this to be a resort that guests will love coming to the same way they love coming here.”

Visit the Otsego Resort’s website to plan your next getaway now.

How to look fresh for Michigan’s fall

Libins shirts sweaters

The turn of seasons marks a perfect time for men to turn over their closets from shorts and golf shirts to clothing that is more appropriate for the fall and winter months.

It’s also time to evaluate if what you’re wearing aligns with current styles, including fit trends which this year tend to skew toward more slim-fitting items.

Thankfully, Mother Nature has granted guys a couple extra weeks as warmer temperatures are expected to linger through September. Recent extended forecasts show high temperatures between 70 and 74 degrees for the southern half of Lower Michigan, and a few days in the 80s are still possible.

Here’s a quick refresher on clothing items that every man should have in his closet for a complete wardrobe, courtesy of Libins, the leading fine men’s clothing shop in the Kalamazoo area.

This fall, the experts at the store with a 60-year history of dressing Southwest Michigan men, say there are ways to beat the color tour chill with casual layers that are both comfortable and versatile for whatever the day may bring – from activities like football games and orchard outings to heading out to dinner with friends.

The clothing carried at Libins includes a wide array of fabrics that can help men gradually progress as the temperatures drop. Materials can vary from lighter weight fabrics in cotton, acrylic, wool and merino wool for the cooler days of fall. There are also multiple styling options for sweaters, such as quarter-zip, v- neck, crew neck and some full-zip options.

Here are some ideas that Libins shoppers have found appealing this year:

  • Long-sleeve sport shirts with stretch soft textures and great prints.
  • Quarter-zip sweaters to match back to the sport shirts.
  • Lightweight V-neck sweaters that are slim fit and match or complement the sport shirts.
  • Crew neck sweaters in ombre stripes.
  • Quarter-zip Sherpa pullovers.

If the occasion calls for an upscale appearance, Libins advisors recommend a sport coat or suit. Libins has styles and fits for all men.  These three have been popular:

  • Calvin Klein Extreme Fit: Tight fit in the coat in the shoulder sleeves and body of the coat. The pant fits below the waist and has a tighter fitting silhouette to the bottom of the leg.
  • Ralph Lauren Modern Fit: The shoulder is looser than the slim fit and a fuller cut sleeve still has a tapered look to the body of the coat. Pant fits slightly below waist and has a straight fit that is more open at the bottom.
  • Eisenberg Traditional Fit: This is the fullest cut suit that we stock. The coat has very little tapering to the body and sleeve. The shoulder is very roomy, and the pants are a classic fit, sitting at the waist and carrying a wide finish to the bottom of the leg.

Libins experts remind men not to overlook pant styling categories that will change the way clothes look. An incorrect fit will affect men’s overall appearance and turn an outfit from fab to drab. Here are the three primary fits:

  • Classic fit: Sits at the waist and has a full leg and wide at the bottom
  • Straight fit: Falls slightly below the waist and has a more tapered leg and is narrow at the bottom. Many brands for fall are making the straight fit and inch narrower at the bottom to give the pant a more slim look.
  • Slim fit: The most tapered of the options, this pant sits below waist and has a very tapered leg to the bottom of the leg.

And if men want to break out of the bland black dress socks that have been in their drawers for years, Libins now carries Happy Socks, a line of colorful and whimsical coverings that will shake up their wardrobe. There are also new prints from the Beatles, Andy Warhol and Rolling Stones to consider.

For more advice and ideas for fall and beyond, visit Libins website or take a moment to talk to one of the store’s fitting professional to create your best look.

Creating this thriving West Michigan restaurant while battling cancer ‘was part of his recovery’

Rosario of Maya Mexican Cafe

From the sombreros hanging on the wall to the “equipales” around the tables to the “muñecas” on display, so much of the décor inside Maya Mexican Grill & Bar is authentic, imported from the land of our neighbors to the south.

Then there’s the live mariachi music on Saturday nights and the delicious sugar- and salt-rimmed margaritas at the bar. And, of course, the extensive menu of genuine Mexican dishes such as Huachinango, Tampiquena and heaping Parrilladas is very tasty, or, shall we say, muy sabroso.

If you’ve never been to Mexico, step inside Andy Rosario’s restaurant in Rogers Plaza Town Center for the next best thing. Maya Mexican Grill is anything but watered down.


“In every sip of your drink you feel the tequila,” said Michael Martinez, bartender in the flourishing restaurant along 28th Street SW in Wyoming. “We always try to do our best to make it with a little bit extra. We always try to take care of our tables the greatest.”

Authentic Equipales at Maya Mexican Grill

In addition to booth seating, Maya Mexican Grill & Bar inside the Rogers Plaza Town Center features authentic ‘equipales,’ or chairs.

Just five years old, Maya Mexican Grill recently made the Top 10 of Michigan’s Best Mexican Restaurant Search. That’s especially interesting since Rosario, the owner, is a native of the Dominican Republic – and a cancer survivor.

When Rosario came to the United States as a boy, he lived with an uncle who owned a grocery store and as he got older Andy ran the store after school. That background led him to start one of the area’s first food trucks about a decade ago, when the trend was just making its way into West Michigan.

It was while running “El Loco Hungry” that Rosario honed his business mentality and whet his appetite for serving the public and interacting with customers. Soon, he was poised to open a full-service restaurant with a liquor license.

Pina Maya dinner at Maya Mexican Grill

Andy Rosario says he ‘found the passion of serving’ while operating one of the early food trucks in Grand Rapids. Now, he’s serving up delicious dishes such as the Pina Maya dinner at Maya Mexican Grill & Bar.

Rosario opted for a menu and ambiance rooted in his wife’s Mexican heritage, yet several unique dishes such as the Pina Maya – a hollowed-out half pineapple filled with steak, chicken, chorizo or shrimp – are infused with Dominican influences.

Maya Mexican Grill opened in 2014. Then, just a few months later, at age 36, Rosario was diagnosed with cancer. Nasal carcinoma, Stage 4. There was a tumor touching his carotid artery.

Against long odds, eight weeks of treatment in Ann Arbor proved successful and shrunk the mass. Rosario survived. Maya Mexican Grill began to thrive.

“Instead of sitting at home focused on his health, he was focused on Maya,” said Elizabeth Rosario, Andy’s wife and a local attorney. “I think that kind of helped him. That was part of his recovery.

“He’s always had this positivity to him. He’s my hero. I’m just super proud of him.”

Now 40, the soft-spoken Rosario looks back on his cancer as if it were a fever: “Take some Tylenol and move on,” he says. He poured himself into his restaurant, ensuring his kitchen has the freshest, choicest ingredients for dishes that Michigan’s Best raved about including fried red snapper (Huachinango), steak (Tampiquena) and an overflowing “molcajete,” or stone bowl, of grilled meats and vegetables featuring jalapeño peppers the size of bananas (Parrilladas) – not to mention a variety of classic fajitas and tacos.

décor at Maya Mexican Grill

The décor at Maya Mexican Grill & Bar features authentic art, figurines and other items from south of the border.

Rosario has adorned the walls with sombreros from Guadalajara and imported traditional Mexican chairs called “equipales.” On one trip to the Mayan archaeological site at Chichén Itzá, he found a heavy statue that was a pain to get through customs but makes a perfect mascot for the restaurant.

And, ironically, Maya Mexican Grill features artwork depicting an ancient calendar with a Mayan god bearing the burden of time on his back, kneeling under the weight of it. For Rosario, now cancer free, time is a gift, one he’s happy to share with guests.

“We’re still standing after all the struggle,” he said. “It’s a blessing.”

And it’s worth celebrating.

“I want people to come and enjoy with family and friends and have a good time. That’s really what it’s all about.”

Top 10 things to do this fall in northern Michigan

Traverse City fall pumpkin patch

In the distance are towering dunes, both to your left and to your right. At your feet is a wide plateau of sand that appears to fall off the face of the earth as it plunges some 450 feet nearly straight down into the water.

Traverse City dunes

It’s a steep slope down to Lake Michigan from the No. 9 overlook along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. From 450 feet above the water, the view alone is worth the trip to Traverse City this fall.

Straight ahead, meeting your eye, is a vast expanse of blue stretching to the horizon and sparkling in the sun.

To describe the view from the Lake Michigan Overlook along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive near Traverse City is one thing. It’s quite another to describe the feeling.

Stunning. Awe-inspiring. Heavenly. Words – even pictures – just don’t do it justice.

Simply put, visiting the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore might be the most sublime experience you’ll ever have. And fall is a fantastic time to soak in all the natural splendor of the “Most Beautiful Place in America.”

Traverse City couple dancing

Not only is Sleeping Bear Dunes one of the most picturesque places on the planet, it’s also one of the Top 10 National Parks for Families and has the country’s Best Beach. But it’s far from the only reason to spend some time in northern Michigan as summer transitions to winter.

For example, Traverse City is also home to America’s Best Scenic Autumn Drive, one of the country’s best wine trails, and one of the Most Beautiful Main Streets in America.

With Fab Fall packages offering discounts at participating resorts and hotels, along with exclusive savings on shopping, dining, spa services and entertainment, now is a great opportunity to experience everything Traverse City has to offer – from stunning vistas high above one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes to intimate dinner tables in what Bon Appetit called one of America’s top five foodie towns.

Speaking of lists and rankings, start planning your trip with this Top 10 things to do this fall in the Traverse City area. Here are some of the highlights:

 

Traverse City couple toasting each other

Refine your palate – Blessed with the unique geography of being located exactly halfway between the North Pole and the equator and insulated by the waters of Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay, the Traverse City area has just the right climate for more than 40 thriving wineries. This time of year, they’re all preparing for their annual harvest. You can check out the wine trails along the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas and find a new favorite this fall.

Plus, not only is Traverse City one of the Top 10 Cities for Wine Snobs, it’s also one of the Top 7 Beer Destinations in North America – not to mention an emerging hub for hard cider and distilleries. Be sure to mark your calendar for Traverse City Beer Week in November. Pair your favorite drink with the fact that Traverse City is the No. 1 Foodie Destination in the Midwest and your taste buds are in for some real joy!

 

Traverse City mom-kid apple picking

Experience the season – There may still be a hint of summer in the air, but winter will be here soon enough. Don’t miss your window to fall in love with fall. Traverse City just happens to be one of America’s Top 10 Fall Foliage Destinations. The whole area is also dotted with farm markets where you can savor the flavor of fresh Michigan produce, pumpkin patches you can peruse for the perfect jack-o-lantern and oodles of scenic settings where you can spread out a blanket, have a picnic and breathe in the autumn air.

 

Traverse City runner

Go on a hike – With about 100 miles of trails, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is an outdoor paradise. If you’re ambitious, you can tackle the park’s famous Dune Climb and keep going all the way to Lake Michigan and back. For a less strenuous adventure with more of the same incredible scenic beauty, hike up to Pyramid Point for the best mainland view of the Manitou Islands, or make your way out to Empire Bluffs on one of the Best 10 Walks in America.

 

Traverse City cyclists

Put yourself to the test – Maybe this fall it’s time for you to complete your first 5k. Or, if you’re a race regular, maybe this fall is time for your first 5k Zombie Run! Fall brings a variety of unique events to Traverse City, and each one gets you outdoors experiencing fall in northern Michigan. There’s the Ice Man Cometh, a 29-mile mountain bike race in Kalkaska, the Great Beerd Run during Traverse City Beer Week and the Paddle Antrim Festival that gets you out on the water. Traverse City also is home to incredible fishing opportunities, the VASA Pathway, which is one of the best running trails in the country, and the Sleeping Bear Marathon.

 

Traverse City couple at a bar

Be together – After immersing yourself in the wonder of the Lake Michigan Overlook on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive or taking in the sights of the idyllic Old Mission Peninsula, find a cozy place to gaze into each other’s eyes and reconnect after a busy summer. Indeed, a trip to Traverse City is of the 5 Most Romantic Getaways in Michigan, and it’s in the Top 10 of America’s Most Romantic Towns.

 

Come and have a ball this fall in Traverse City. Fab Fall packages are available through Dec. 13.

 

Traverse City: Home base for the ultimate M-22 road trip

Traverse City

You’ve seen it on vehicles all over Michigan: The M-22 sticker. The image itself is just like road signs on M-routes all across the state. But the combination of that letter and those two numbers communicates something truly special and unique.

M-22 represents natural beauty. It is an emblem of adventure, a symbol of a slower pace M22that affords you the time to meander and explore. It is magical.

You’ve seen the bumper stickers. Now, it’s time to see scenic M-22 for yourself.

It’s time for you to experience the awe-inspiring, waterfront route that winds around the Leelanau Peninsula along the shores of Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay. The route that USA Today readers voted the best scenic autumn drive in the country.

When you do buckle up and hit the road, we welcome you to make your base in Traverse City. Whatever season you visit, TC offers the best of Michigan – a snowy wonderland of outdoor activity in the winter, brilliant cherry blossoms in the spring and sparkling blue waters in the summer, not to mention a vibrant downtown with extraordinary dining and exciting events throughout the year.

In the fall, with stunning vistas of colorful forests, both M-22 and Traverse City are especially incredible. Here are 8 reasons why:

Color Tours – Not only do USA Today readers rave about M-22, but TripAdvisor has ranked Traverse City one of America’s top 10 foliage destinations and Readers Digest called a trek from Traverse City along M-22 one of the country’s best fall road trips.

People in carAlong M-22 you not only see breathtaking colors, but roadside fruit stands offering a slice


Wine Tasting
– The Traverse City area is home to more than 50 wineries, each with a unique personality and all within less than an hour’s drive of each other. You can make your way along M-22 from one winery on the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail to the next, with safe, relaxing transportation from one of the area’s many tour companies.of life that nourishes your soul, a wealth of wineries with new flavors to discover andquaint small towns with charming galleries and restaurants.

Fall is an ideal time to take a vineyard tour and see grapes pressed into wine, or to grab a seat in a tasting room and discover a new favorite.

Microbrews – In addition to all the wineries, the Traverse City area has one of the country’s highest numbers of breweries per capita. You can explore them on a beer bus tour or get outside in the crisp fall air and go from one brewery to the next on a paddling or cycling tour.

apples traverse cityWe also celebrate the region’s craft brews each fall during Traverse City Beer Week. This year’s festivities Nov. 8-15 include lots of food and beer (such as a Flapjack & Flannel Festival that pairs beer with pancakes!) and a 5k Great Beerd Run that combines running, beer drinking and, of course, beards.

 

Farm Markets – Fall is time for farmers to bring in the harvest, and time for us all to get back in touch with where our food comes from. On Thanksgiving Day, we’ll celebrate Michigan’s bounty of agricultural goodness. Until then, you can head out to the farm and have a blast picking apples, navigating corn mazes and taking hayrides to the pumpkin patch. Along M-22 there are lots of farmer’s markets and U-pick farms to experience the season.

Sleeping Bear Dunes – Every summer visitors flock to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which was voted the “Most Beautiful Place in America.” But here’s a secret: Many views are even more impressive in the fall.

Throughout the park along M-22 are hiking trails. Iconic sites include Pyramid Point, which is perched high above Lake Michigan and offers an incredible view of the Manitou Islands that are part of the legend that gave Sleeping Bear its name.

Beaches and Lakes – So much of the picturesque beauty of M-22 comes from the waterfront it hugs. It’s important to remember that the beaches along the way don’t close after Labor Day!

traverse city beachesWith blue lakes and golden sand mixing with the changing colors ofleaves, fall presents an incredible setting for romantic picnics on the beach and long walks by the water.

Fall is also a great time for fishing, when salmon make their annual run upriver from Lake Michigan, and for getting out on the water in a kayak to take in the gorgeous show of color from a fresh perspective.

Golf “Up North” golf reaches its peak in the fall, when the courses are still green, the water remains a beautiful blue and the trees come ablaze with colors of scarlet, orange and gold. It almost makes you want to hit your ball into the woods!

Some of Michigan’s best golf courses live along M-22. And after the round you can settle your bets – or double-down on your winnings – at Leelanau Sands Casino on M-22 near Suttons Bay.

Events – You can anchor your M-22 fall experience around one or more of the many events in the Traverse City area. There’s something happening every day this fall including Walking Ghost Tours, the Harvest Stompede, Sleeping Bear Marathon, Fall Color Sail, Downtown Traverse City Art Walk, M-22 Art2Art Tour, Traverse City Beer Week and more.

Maybe you should celebrate Halloween this year with a Zombie Run. Or run your first marathon. Or go on the wine trail’s Hunt for the Reds of October.

However you choose to experience the majesty of M-22, you can make Traverse City your home base. Fab Fall packages including lodging, dining, shopping and spa discounts are available now.

Learn more at TraverseCity.com and come see us for a great Michigan vacation.

Download the MI Best M-22 Road Trip Guide

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Why the last ethnic neighborhood in Detroit is more vibrant than ever

Greektown Heritage Fest

Ask Christos Moisides about what the Greektown neighborhood means to Detroit, and he’s quick to respond:

“It’s been one of the heartbeats of Detroit for many, many decades,” said Moisides, whose family has owned businesses in the district on the city’s near Northeast side for years. “It means a lot to continue the tradition of what Greektown was and then be a part of transition it into what Greektown will continue to be.”

That’s the same assessment offered up by Tasso Teftsis, the owner of the legendary Astoria Bakery.

“(Greektown) is special to Detroit because it’s the last ethnic neighborhood that is still living and vibrant,” he said. “It’s special to Greeks around here, they feel ownership of Greektown, and we have a responsibility to keep it going.”

Greektown was established in the 1880s as a residential district where immigrants could hold on to their culture as they adapted to a new way of life. It morphed to a commercial streetscape led by family-owned businesses and marked by historic properties and Victorian era architecture.

The area’s cultural legacy was on full display this summer during the second annual Greektown Heritage Festival, which drew thousands of people to explore Monroe Avenue between Brush and St. Antoine streets on July 27.

 

 

The event served as a reminder of the Hellenic influence in the neighborhood, but it was also an introduction to one of the city’s prime entertainment district and diverse shopping experiences.

Residents and visitors strolled through the neighborhood watching lamb being traditionally roasted on a spit over open flames, Greek entertainers singing and dancing and a children’s area with balloon artists and inflatable playhouses.

The day-long festival is led by the Greektown Preservation Society with sponsorship by the Greektown Casino-Hotel, which opened in 2007 and has helped the area evolve while staying true to its roots.

“Greektown Casino-Hotel are awesome neighbors,” Teftsis said. “They are a big part of the festival, but they’re also a big part of the community, a part of our Greektown neighborhood partnership…it’s really an exciting time for Greektown.”

While Greektown’s history is evident in its name, the district has also served as a melting pot of cultures, one of which is shown through mutual support to and from The Old Shillelagh, an iconic Irish bar at the corner of Brush and Monroe streets. Owner Shellie Lewis said the festival is a chance to learn more about neighbors who share the goals of keeping Greektown strong.

“There’s a lot of new businesses coming in, and it is making this an even better place to be,” Lewis said. “If it wasn’t for Greektown Casino and Hotel, we wouldn’t be able to pull off the event. They are pillars of the community.”

Moisides, meanwhile, said as other areas of Detroit attract attention for their rebirth, it’s important to remember that Greektown never went away. It’s part of the pulse of Detroit, Moisides said.

“For the longest time, Greektown was everything,” Moisides said. “It’s still such a vital part of the community, where you have vibrant businesses and a great pulse of the area. It’s a place where everyone’s coming to see what’s happening and (wants to be) a part of the community.

“It’s still a safe family environment during the daytime and turns into a great entertaining, kind of nightlife hospitality enhanced area in the evenings.”

See Pictured Rocks and 4 more reasons to visit Munising in the fall

Munising autumn

The incredible natural wonders and extensive outdoor adventure opportunities of Munising and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are legendary, with the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore often serving as the focal point of travelers’ visits.

But there’s so much more to see and do while staying in and around Munising while enjoying panoramic views of Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes.

From majestic waterfalls to crystal clear waters that reveal a scuba diver’s shipwreck paradise, Cori-Ann Cearley, president of Munising’s Visitors Bureau, says the region is more than a one trick pony destination.

“We call Pictured Rocks our ‘big gun’ attraction, and rightfully so,” Cearley said, “but one of the moments we love to see is when our guests come and discover all of the other beautiful and amazing parts of our area that they weren’t aware of.

“They find there’s beautiful scenery to explore while hiking, biking, kayaking or on a boat cruise.”

As Labor Day approaches and the fall colors set to explode – and crowds tend to dwindle with school back in session – now is an ideal time to head north and check out these Northern Michigan gems:

Shipwrecks at the Alger Underwater Preserve

Hugging the lakeshore between Munising and Grand Island, the eight shipwrecks of the Alger Underwater Preserve are a throwback to another era of transportation and shipping. Whether diving or viewing from a glass-bottomed boat tour, the wrecks, some of which have been preserved for more than a century, are visible through clear blue and green waters that are breathtaking in their own right. The area was a shipping sanctuary with the natural protection of Grand Island, but big seas sometimes proved too strong. Wooden schooners, steam barges and steel freight ships dot the coast.

Waterfalls

Munising WaterfallAt its core, a waterfall is a simple concept – gravity pulls liquid from a higher point until it finds an outlet, but the release and flow of water is something that captures the attention of nature lovers and photographers. The tranquil sights abound in the Munising area, where 17 waterfalls are found throughout Alger County. The waterfalls are accessible to all and active year-round, an ice-flow waterfall in the winter is a sight to behold on its own. The waterfalls can be found on Grand Island, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and elsewhere. The Munising Visitors Bureau can help you find all the waterfalls in the area.

Lighthouses

Navigational advances may have diminished the need for the prime function of lighthouses, but the uniquely built structures remain a beacon for people interested in history and beauty on the shores of the Great Lakes. Munising is the home of eight lighthouses, including the Au Sable Point light that can be toured and climbed from mid-June through Labor Day. Other lights have been renovated and can be seen up close while serving as the center for memorable vacation photos. Some lighthouses have been converted to dream-like private residences.

Grand Island

Hop aboard a narrated bus tour and learn about the 3,000-year history of Grand Island, a 13,000-acre bit of paradise in the Hiawatha National Forest that sits only a half-mile from Munising. The southernmost island in Lake Superior, this natural phenomenon is ideal for hiking and biking to white-sand beaches, stunning elevated vistas and an “I’m all alone in the woods” secluded sites that offer silence from the rush of daily life. Visitors can get to the island via personal boat or ferry. The wilderness area offers unmatched scenery where travelers can see black bear and white-tail deer. Be sure to check out Echo Lake and bring your fishing pole.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Practice your “oohs” and “wow!” before visiting this national treasure that features 40 miles of sandstone cliffs, rock formations, sea caves and sea arches that are equally stunning from the ground and the water. The dramatic colors are breathtaking and the sheer size of the protected lakeshore allows you a freedom that doesn’t generally exist where up to 700,000 people visit annually. Hike 100 miles of trails or jump on a guided boat tour to take in beaches, sand dunes, waterfalls and hardwood forests that will leave an impression for a lifetime – or at least until you come back to experience it again.

Your first – or next visit – to Munising will bring natural joy and relaxation. You’ll find a wide selection of comfortable lodging that matches your desires and vacation plans.

Learn more at Munising.org

Project 1 opening weekend and beyond: Don’t miss these events

Project 1 logo

Dancers rappelling off a rooftop to perform intricate routines 100 feet above street level on the side of a building in downtown Grand Rapids.

A cellist who creates a blend of hip-hop, folk, soul and classical music like has never been heard before in a Southeast Side park.

The U.S. debut of drag queens and kings living with Down Syndrome and expressing themselves on stage.

The artists and their mediums challenge the status quo.

And that’s exactly what the founders of Project 1 – the brainchild of ArtPrize organizers who are launching the public art exhibition’s new biennial structure on Sept. 7 – want to do. It’s part of the intentional effort to confront boundaries, both visible and invisible, that affect a sense of belonging.

“These artists are crossing lines of their genres and putting on a performance that people have never seen,” said Derek Call, ArtPrize’s director of operations and production. “We want people to be comfortable experiencing something new, and we are shining a spotlight on Grand Rapids as the place to go for art that opens your eyes to more than what is normally part of your life.

“The entire exhibition and the events we’ve curated around them will have people asking themselves ‘Will I ever witness anything like this again?’”

Project 1 bases five artists’ works at three sites around Grand Rapids. The artists – Amanda Browder, Heather Hart, Olalekan Jeyifous, Paul Amenta and Ted Lott and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer – were carefully selected, and the locations in downtown, at Martin Luther King Jr. Park and at a former manufacturing plant, were chosen to bring art to the people. It also is designed to take people to places in the city they may not have visited before.

Although the exhibition is primarily a self-guided exploration, there are free event-based performances and programming around artists’ installations. Project 1 leaders have structured the opening weekend with performances at each site. After that, the exhibition will highlight one location per weekend.

Here’s the itinerary for the free events and when to get a first glimpse of the art when it is amplified:

Opening Day, Sept. 7

The first Project 1 opens at noon at Rosa Parks Circle with a celebratory ribbon-cutting, the amazing elevated choreography of BANDALOOP as well as

Courtesy BANDALOOP/Jessica Swanson

Courtesy BANDALOOP/Jessica Swanson

dancers from the Grand Rapids Ballet performing on one half of Hart’s The Oracle of the Soulmates, a rooftop sculptures that will have an installation component in Martin Luther King Jr. Park. At 1 p.m., Rafael Lozano-Hemmer will take part in an artist discussion.

The day progresses to the park, where the second half of Hart’s installation will be available for viewing along with Amanda Browder’s largest work in Kaleidoscopic. Browder’s vibrant fabric creation will be draped over the exterior of a community center building. The park will also be the setting for cellist Jordan Hamilton’s musical fusion at 2 p.m., and an artist conversation with Hart and Browder.

The final part of the opening ceremonies takes art explorers to Tanglefoot, a former flypaper manufacturing campus that is now home to urban artist studios. Artists Paul Amenta and Ted Lott, who created Critical Infrastructure to focus on issues of accessibility, will have a 6 p.m. conversation with collaborators Chris Smit and Jill Vyn of DisArt.

DisArt will later host the Underground Drag show at a location to be determined.

Call said Project 1 staff hope to form a caravan of sorts with people flowing from site to site and taking in the installations as the opening weekend energy builds.

“It’s going to be a really great day with some moments visitors won’t want to miss,” he said. “We’re giving people an opportunity to interact with the art and the artists. We plan to carry that on throughout the event.”

Saturday, Sept. 14

The focal point of Project 1’s second weekend turns to the Blue Bridge over the Grand River and to the city’s West Side, which is hosting its annual street fair. The bridge is home to Lozano-Hemmer’s Voice Bridge, an installation on the iconic span’s handrails that allow participants to record a message and then experience it as it plays back on a loop while jumping from speaker to speaker.

Project 1 has enlisted Dan Deacon, a nationally recognized composer and performer, to take control of the interactive piece that is part architecture and

Dan Deacon: Courtesy Paradigm Talent Agency

Dan Deacon: Courtesy Paradigm Talent Agency

part performance art. Deacon, who has worked with artists ranging from Miley Cyrus to The Flaming Lips, will use the sound system and 400+ lights for a one-of-a-kind electronic music show.

The show begins at 8 p.m. as night sets in on Grand Rapids and the light displays will sync to the beat of the performance.

“Dan’s amazing and it’s going to be so cool to have him perform and have the lights responding to the music and the vibration,” Call said. “The Blue Bridge has never seen anything like this, that’s for sure.”

Saturday, Sept. 21

It’s time for a city-wide slow roll bicycle ride that takes art lovers to all three Project 1 locations and builds community by bringing together visitors and area residents. The ride is open to all skill levels and is not a timed event, Call said.

“This is a nice and easy ride, and it’s a really unique way to see the installations and meet new people along the way,” Call said.

The guided tour, which is approximately eight miles and will be roughly an hour of ride time, starts downtown at 8:30 a.m., features a group yoga warm-up and then makes stops at each site after taking off at 10 a.m. There is an extended stop at MLK Park, where Grand Rapids’ annual African American Art & Music Festival is taking place. Registration is required for the ride for logistical reasons and allocation of safety resources.

Organizers expect the tour to take approximately 2½ hours and the final route will bring riders past Olaleka Jeyifous’ The Boom and the Bust, a 25-foot sculpture at the corner of Louis Street and Monroe Avenue in downtown Grand Rapids. The installation juxtaposes massive downtown development alongside foreclosure and displacement.

“It’s going to be a cool way to explore art and explore the city’s neighborhoods from a different vantage point,” Call said. “You won’t be rushing by in a car or thinking about something else. You’re slowing down and seeing what’s around you. That’s something we as a whole don’t do enough of, finding out more about the community that we live in.”

Saturday, Sept. 28

The last themed weekend of events returns to the Tanglefoot site with Project 1 collaborator DisArt presenting a first-person multimedia project a la the non-profit StoryCorps. Titled Voices, the project gathers and visualizes stories of alienation from disabled community members and visitors to the site. The groundbreaking and instructive piece is open from noon to 10 p.m. and is set among the installations at the site.

“One thing we’re trying to do is give people a sense of belonging and a feeling that they’re welcome anywhere in the city,” Call said. “No one should be excluded because they don’t live somewhere or they don’t look a certain way. We all have our own story.”

The final month

Project 1 leaders believe visiting the installation sites during planned performances and then on a return self-guided visit will lead to different experiences. Pieces might strike a contrasting chord or be viewed in a different light. Perhaps guests will be more informed or more focused on the art.

“There will be moments that if you miss them, you’ll miss them and the interactivity can’t be recreated,” ArtPrize Artistic Director Kevin Buist said. “We think that will draw audiences and excite and inspire the visitors to gather together. And then people will want to go and get another unique look at the installations.

“That’s what we want people to do, to challenge themselves to see more.”

Visit the Project 1 website to learn more about the public art exhibition.

How a Michigan credit union is a ‘game-changer’ for communities, non-profits

Lake Trust CU

Lisa Crawford, the director of the Detroit non-profit Humble Design, knows exactly how much impact community-minded businesses have on tightly run charities like hers.

“We literally could not do it without partnerships like we have with Lake Trust Credit Union,” she said. “They are a game-changer for us when they send full teams of people to volunteer for the day. It speaks to their dedication to the community and helping strengthen neighborhoods one home at a time.”

Lake Trust Credit Union, which is headquartered in Brighton and serves 175,000 members with 22 branches across the southern lower peninsula, is stepping up its commitment to Humble Design and five other Michigan non-profits with innovative programs for home mortgage loans and home equity loans that benefit its members and the larger fabric of the state.

As the community-based credit union continues its expansion throughout Michigan, adding new locations in Detroit on Woodward Avenue and Plymouth within the last month alone, its team Lake Trust CU Branchremains committed to donating its time and resources to help create and sustain strong neighborhoods.

“As both Detroit and Plymouth continue to experience significant growth and development, we saw this as an opportunity to contribute to the positive energy taking place in these communities while better serving small businesses and our members living and working in these areas,” said Nicole Whitely, a member experience manager for Lake Trust Credit Union. “These branches not only offer modern conveniences that impact the way we communicate with and provide solutions for our members, but they also expand our platform for building and growing strong relationships with our communities in Michigan.”

Lake Trust, through September 30, will give members who close a new mortgage or refinance their mortgage $250, and the credit union will also donate $250 to charity. Members who close a home equity loan will receive $100, and the credit union will grant a non-profit $100.

“Our goal is to build a stronger Michigan by improving communities and helping our neighbors,” said Whitely. “We want to put people first and help make the lives of our members better.”

In addition to Humble Design, which helps people emerging from homelessness transform their new housing with a coordinated design of donated furniture and household goods, Lake Trust Credit Union has partnered with:

  • The City Rescue Mission of Lansing, a shelter that uplifts the homeless.
  • Love in Action, which pairs medical professionals with support agencies in rural communities.
  • Shelter Association of Washtenaw County, a temporary shelter.
  • LaCasa, a Howell-based group that aids domestic violence victims.
  • Isabella County Restoration House, a mid-Michigan housing assistance group.

 

Lake Trust began the program in July and planned to have it in place through August. The overwhelmingly positive response led to the credit union extending the donation period through September.

The timing of the member benefit and the charitable donation comes at a great time. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, an industry trade group, average rates for a 30-year mortgage recently dropped below 4 percent for the first time in nearly three years. Rates on 15-year loans are even lower.

“We take pride in being involved in the community and focusing our efforts on giving back. It’s part of our culture,” Whitely said. “We don’t just say it, we show it with our commitment to helping neighborhoods thrive.

“We think this is a unique way of showing the dedication of our credit union.”

Crawford agrees, saying Humble Design is honored to have been chosen among the recipients of the financial boost.

“It’s been incredible to work with Lake Trust team members,” she said.

Visit Lake Trust Credit Union to learn more about how it benefits its members and Michigan.