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At a pancake breakfast, Metro Detroit rings in holidays

The Detroit News

Detroit — Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan helped kick off the holiday season Friday at a pancake breakfast at the Detroit Parade Co.

Snyder, in brief remarks to kick off the event, hailed the spirit of Detroiters. Their positivity, he said, is part of what makes Detroit “America’s comeback city.”

Duggan used his time on stage to praise business leaders who have played a role in bringing people and enthusiasm to downtown Detroit, where the parade is staged.

One was Art Van Elslander, better known as Art Van, deserved credit for stepping up when Detroit’s Thanksgiving Parade was in jeopardy about 25 years ago. Van Elslander wrote a check for $200,000, and the event was saved. In 2013, Art Van became the parade’s lead sponsor. Today, the parade’s official title is “America’s Thanksgiving Parade,” presented by Art Van.

Another was Dan Loepp, CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, who moved more than 1,000 workers to downtown Detroit earlier this decade.

Blue Cross picked up the tab for Friday’s breakfast, which attracted hundreds of civic and business leaders to Detroit Parade Co. headquarters on Mount Elliott, where they ate breakfast surrounded by the floats that would travel down Woodward Avenue during the parade a few weeks from now.

“VIP flippers,” including The News’ Nolan Finley and Neal Rubin and Detroit Police Chief James Craig, took turns preparing pancakes — plain, blueberry, and chocolate chip — for their guests.

Congresswomen Debbie Dingell and Candice Miller made appearances at the breakfast, as did ex-Detroit City Councilwoman Saunteel Jenkins, now head of the the Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW), former Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano, and News columnist Bankole Thompson.