For 44 years, Detroiters and our neighbors from surrounding communities have come together for the annual Noel Night, a joyous celebration of Midtown and the great cultural treasures that we are privileged to have in metro Detroit.
A Free Press article previewing last weekend’s Noel Night had a simple tip: “The best advice regarding Noel Night? Just go!” It highlighted that more than 100 venues around Midtown would open their doors for a family-friendly event celebrating the holiday season and all things Detroit.
Tens of thousands took that advice. The streets were packed with those enjoying a wonderful evening until a random and isolated act of violence occurred. Four teens were wounded, and a 16-year-old has been taken into custody. Police inform us that this unfortunate turn of events originated from an argument earlier in the day at a high school football game at Ford Field. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families and we hope for a speedy recovery.
The hard question for Noel Night and our city now is whether we allow one isolated incident involving a misguided teenager to cast a shadow on all the positive developments in Midtown.
A look at the facts points to a resounding answer: absolutely not.
In recent years, Midtown has been one of Detroit’s fastest growing neighborhoods. Midtown, the New York Times has noted, “is one of Detroit’s most striking economic-revival success stories.”
Salvador Salort-Pons has been named the new director of the Detroit Institute of Arts (Photo: KIMBERLY P. MITCHELL, Detroit Free Press)
Midtown also remains one of the safest places in Detroit. We have seen major crimes drop an incredible 55% between 2008 and 2016; robberies, car thefts and larcenies decreased 56%. Wayne State University Police aims to arrive within an astonishing 90 seconds of an emergency call, and within four minutes for non-emergencies.
The WSU Police Department has tripled in size since the 1970s and now has 63 officers. The force monitors Midtown with more than 1,000 surveillance cameras.
Detroit’s continuing rebirth will be built on hope and faith in our regional community, not on fear.
Our resurgence continues unabated. We are not about to let one senseless incident in Noel Night’s 45-year history deter us from continuing to celebrate the things that make us proud to call Detroit home. We will keep moving forward.
So visit the Detroit Public Library’s main branch, which has been an anchor in the heart of Midtown since 1921. Come to its Sunday Family Fun Days, where children and adults can enjoy activities such as art and technology classes, author talks and more.
Don’t miss 1001 Inventions: Untold Stories from a Golden Age of Innovation at the Michigan Science Center, an award-winning exhibition showcasing many of the innovative breakthroughs that still influence our world today.
Enjoy seven days of Kwanzaa at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History or the three-day African World Festival, which annually attracts hundreds of thousands in unity and celebration.
Check out the College for Creative Studies, which embodies Midtown as a vibrant community teeming with art, culture and innovation. It is also home to the Valade Family and Center Galleries, offering regular exhibitions that are open to all.
The Detroit Historical Museum offers free admission for a trip through time. Wander the Streets of Old Detroit to see how life once was. Experience exhibits such as the award-winning Detroit 67: Perspectives, helping us come together and understand the events 50 years ago that changed our city forever.
The DIA has one of the largest, most significant art collections in America, with more than 65,000 artworks that date from the earliest civilizations to the present, and offers unlimited free general admission for all residents of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties. We are proud to host hundreds of thousands of students, seniors and families annually.
These collective cultural jewels of Midtown are, in fact, a solution to the very problem we found ourselves facing last week. Together, we provide kids in Detroit and the region first-rate educational experiences and a way to explore the world. Together, we continue to strive to better the lives of the communities we are privileged to serve and inspire the next generation of Detroiters.
We are proud to call this city home and to call these great institutions our neighbors. We invite you to come see for yourself and experience all that Midtown has to offer.
Salvador Salort-Pons is CEO, president and director of the Detroit Institute of Arts.
This piece is also signed by Robert Bury, executive director and CEO, Detroit Historical Society; Dr. Tonya M. Matthews, president and CEO, Michigan Science Center; Jo Anne G. Mondowney, executive director, Detroit Public Library; Sue Mosey, president, Midtown Inc.; Juanita Moore, president and CEO, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History; and Richard L. Rogers, president, College for Creative Studies.
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