Shimmer on the River features beach-themed fun

Erica Hobbs
Special to The Detroit News

Grab your flowy dresses, Panama hats and flip flops, Shimmer on the River returns Thursday with a beach-themed party to raise funds for the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. The annual event will take place for the first time at the Robert C. Valade Park and feature live music, food and family-friendly activities.

“It’s honestly a complete blast,” said Cassie Brenske, chief development officer for the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. “It’s a really fun celebration of the amazing work that’s happened along the riverfront. At the same time, it’s also an opportunity for us to raise support around work that we’re doing.”

Shimmer on the River will feature a strolling dinner with local food trucks.

Valade Park’s expansive, sandy beach sets the stage for the beach theme and will add a boardwalk to create a Venice Beach-inspired vibe with a “Detroit twist.”

Event-goers will enjoy family-friendly activities like an adventure park, climbing wall, obstacle course, inflatable axe throwing, Skee-Ball and face painting, as well as roller skating performers and more. They’ll also be able to make their own sand creations, use a letterpress with Detroit’s Signal-Return and receive one-of-a-kind airbrushed hats from Aired Out Customs and Detroit Riverfront-themed swag. 

Marc Pasco, the Riverfront’s director of communications, said being family-friendly is an important value for the event, and each Shimmer on the River ticket includes admission for two children under age 12.

“Because so much of what we do with programming… (and being) so family friendly-focused… we want to make sure that this event, because it’s such a big and important event, that we have that family component to it,” he said. 

Award-winning artist Alise King leads the evening’s live entertainment, performing R&B music. Shimmer will also feature beach-themed drinks and a strolling dinner with local food trucks, including Hell Yeah Dog, Fork in Nigeria, the Cous Truck, Cousins Maine Lobster, Melt Down Creamery and others.

Brenske described the dress code as “cocktail casual,” and she and Pasco said the beach theme lends itself to a variety of options from formal dresses to shorts to flip flops. 

“We’re just encouraging people to come and be comfortable, have some fun and just get ready to have a good time,” Pasco said.

Shimmer on the River is the largest fundraiser for the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and is aiming to raise $250,000, which will support its general operating and programming funds.

“As the stewards of the riverfront, we raise the funds that are necessary to not only transform these spaces but to maintain them in perpetuity,” Brenske said. “Events like Shimmer on the River are a great opportunity for us to both celebrate that amazing work but to raise community support around to help fund it.”

The Riverfront Conservancy will also present its annual “Shimmer Award” to the Hudson Family and the conservancy’s longtime board member Pamela Rodgers for their efforts in the riverfront’s success.

The Detroit Riverwalk was named Best Riverwalk in the 2022 USA TODAY 10 Best Readers' Choice Awards contest, winning for the second year in a row.

Brenske said Shimmer on the River is a great opportunity to create a new memory on the riverfront.

“I think being down there in an outdoor space, being able to grab a drink, or grab some food or grab some ice cream with family members and neighbors and community members is something that we all need right now,” she said. “I think it’s a really safe space to come out and celebrate the start of summer and the opportunity to be outside more.”

Shimmer on the River

6-9 p.m. Thursday at Robert C. Valade Park, 2670 Atwater St., along the east riverfront in downtown Detroit.

General admission: $150 and includes access for up to two children younger than 12; VIP tickets are $250 and include early admission at 5 p.m. for an exclusive reception and the Shimmer award ceremony.

For tickets and more information visit