Detroit News reporter Holly Fournier takes a ride on the snow slide, a dog sled and the new Zip line at the 2015 Winter Blast.
Detroit — The Meridian Winter Blast at Campus Martius returns on Friday with thrilling rides to go with festival classics that include live music, food, free ice skating and snowshoeing.
Event organizers expect big crowds to flock to the snow slide and a new attraction: a 300-foot zip line down Woodward.
"It could lead to attendance of 100,000 people over the three days," event producer Jon Witz said Thursday. "I think we're in for our best weekend since the Super Bowl."
The first Winter Blast in 2005 served as a test run for the Super Bowl XL-related Motown Winter Blast in 2006. Around 1.2 million people attended the festival held the weekend of the big game.
This year, the new Bedrock Zip Line Adventure sends riders on a 20-second ride along a 300-foot stretch of Woodward. Two parallel lines allow pairs to fly together, 34 feet in the air. It is downtown Detroit's first-ever zip line, according to event organizers.
"We'd like to bring this to this to River Days (this summer)," Witz said. "Based on our planned success here, we'd like to let people zip line along the riverfront."
Nearby, the fan-favorite Meridian Snow Slide returns after organizers initially were concerned about funding.
"Meridian stepped in," Witz said. "(They) came through with the financial support about two and a half weeks ago."
Other festival returnees include dogsled demonstrations from a professional racer originally from Bay City.
"People in Detroit typically haven't seen sled dogs, so it's fun to teach them about the sport," said Amanda Vogel, a professional racer of 10 years who has brought her team to the Winter Blast every year since 2006. "They can see that the dogs really love to run."
The festival will feature live bands in heated tents, where attendees can pick up free Tim Hortons hot chocolate and coffee. Detroit restaurants the Whitney and Mercury Burger Bar have been added to the culinary offerings this year.
Mother Nature is expected to cooperate, with temperatures ranging from the mid-20s to 30 degrees.
Friday will warm up to about 26 with a night-time low of about 20, according to the National Weather Service. Saturday should bring slightly warmer temperatures near 30 degrees with a low of 26.
2015 Meridian Winter Blast
11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
Admission: $2 donation to Matrix Human Services, one children's book or three canned food items
Bedrock Zip Line Adventure
■Begins at Woodward and State/Gratiot
■Thirty-four feet tall and 300 feet long
■Tickets are $10 each or two for $15
■Riders must be between 45 and 250 pounds
Meridian Snow Slide
■Located on Michigan Avenue
■Thirty feet tall and 200 feet long
■Tickets are $3
■Riders must at least 42" tall