Donald Hatcher, 11, checks out a model of a B-24 Liberator bomber as students of St.Paul AME Zion Church in Detroit tour the museum. (Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News)
Detroit— After she heard the city will celebrate its 313th birthday this week, 6-year-old Anna Panek said: “That’s older than my dad.”
On Tuesday, Anna and 13 of her classmates from daycare visited the Detroit Historical Museum, where the institution is in the midst of a week-long Detroit birthday celebration.
The city’s official birthday is Thursday and the museum as well as several other organizations are planning events to mark the occasion.
“Any anniversary of Detroit recalls the origins of the region itself, in terms of European settlement,” said Thomas Klug, assistant provost and an associate history professor of Marygrove College in Detroit.
Klug is also co-founder and director of the college’s Institute for Detroit Studies, which promotes the interdisciplinary study of Detroit.
“In 1701, Detroit was just a fort with a few settlements,” he said. “No one could imagine it would be the auto capital of the world by 1920, and I don’t think anyone in 1920 could imagine Detroit’s meteoric rise or its collapse nearly 100 years later.”
Anna said the coolest thing at the museum was a Ford Model T. “I felt like a queen,” she said. “I told my driver to take me to the carnival.”
She and the group were from Tutor Time childcare and learning center in Sterling Heights.
Linda Stone, one of the chaperones for Anna’s group and a teacher’s assistant, said the field trip was designed to give the kids a taste of Detroit’s history.
“It’s a good experience for the kids and the perfect way to celebrate the city’s birthday,” said the 42-year-old from Clinton Township.
Explorer and trader Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded Detroit on July 24, 1701, as a settlement for France.
Though the city’s official birthday is Thursday, the Detroit Historical Museum started celebrating Saturday.
On Tuesday, it hosted Arsenal of Democracy Day. Museum visitors were given the chance to create or color a World War II propaganda poster.
Museum spokesman Bob Sadler said the institution celebrates Detroit’s birthday every year with special events.
This year has added significance, he said, since the city’s age has caught up to its area code. “Three-one-three in Detroit has become more than an area code,” he said. “It’s a moniker for this region and we decided to have a little fun with it and celebrate the 313th birthday of the 3-1-3.”
Other celebrations are planned. Among them:
■The Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau will host a “Tweetup” from 6-8 p.m. Thursday at the Firebird Tavern. Go to www.visitdetroit.com for information.
■Campus Martius Park plans to host a couple of events Thursday. For information, go to www.campusmartiuspark.org.
■Also Thursday, the Detroit Experience Factory is hosting the tour “Drink Detroit: Detroit’s 313th Birthday Celebration.” The 5:50 p.m. tour features stops at three bars. For information, www.weknowdetroit.com.