New Year’s festivities bring out revelry, reflection

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Amid a sea of selfie sticks, party hats and horns, 4-year-old Sunni George was focused on a dance party of her own this New Year.

“She’s a party animal,” said her mother, Dana George, 32, as the bundled Sunni twirled. “We were just going to take a picture of her in front of the Christmas tree. That was it. But we stayed because we didn’t have any other plans.”

The Commerce residents were among thousands of revelers to pack Detroit’s Campus Martius Park downtown for the 6th Motor City New Year’s Eve celebration. Similar celebrations were in Royal Oak, Brighton and Mount Clemens.

The centerpiece of the night was the revamped “D,” mounted on an 8-foot glowing sphere that was dropped in Cadillac Square. As it touched down at midnight, ushering in 2016, confetti sprayed out over the crowd and the scene morphed immediately into a techno dance party in the street.

The midnight drop was the second of the evening, with the first at 6:30 p.m. tailored toward children.

Organizers this year promised more attractions for children and adults and say they hoped it would yield a larger crowd than last year’s turnout of about 20,000.

Brittany Wilks of Roseville loaded her children, Brooklyn Phillips, 2, and Brody Phillips, 3, into a wagon and brought them down to ring in the new year.

“I’m really impressed,” she said. “We’ll be back. The kids love it.”

On South Main Street in Royal Oak, Bastone Brewery was booked up earlier in the evening and offered a special menu and midnight champagne toast for customers.

Erik Brumley, 41, said he stopped in for a quick beer before catching a performance by Greensky Bluegrass at the nearby Royal Oak Theater.

“I’m just going to hit the bar up and go to the concert,” said Brumley of South Lyon, adding he’s seen the band every New Year’s Eve for eight years.

Those visiting Mount Clemens on Thursday could take part in a flurry of children’s activities including character meet-and-greets, petting zoo, rides on Thomas the Train, juggling, magic shows, stories and karaoke.

The 22nd Downtown Mount Clemens New Year’s Eve Gala included two ball drops and two rounds of fireworks; the first for children and a later show for adults, said Michelle Weiss, marketing and events coordinator for the Mount Clemens Downtown Development Authority.

By 5:30 p.m., Weiss said thousands of party-goers were lined up throughout the downtown to get a ride on vintage amusement rides, see the animals and other activities.

Jasmine Bass of Detroit came to Campus Martius with relatives and her son, Jordan, 5.

Bass, 33, says she’s hoping for “more blessings” in the new year and “less crimes.”

Detroit-headquartered Meridian Health Care served as the title sponsor of the 2016 “The Drop” in Campus Martius Park.

Event co-founders Jerrid Mooney and Tony Piraino first launched the event in December 2010 with a gala that drew close to 4,000 spectators to the Compuware building and featured a D Drop in the plaza.

Mooney has said he and Piraino were inspired to start the event after they noticed “an unmet need” in Detroit. The event, supported by Opportunity Detroit and Bedrock Real Estate Services, is free.

Detroit’s event featured live music, alcohol and local retailers. Partygoers could fight off the cold at warming stations and participate in face painting and bounce houses.

April Nickert, 31, brought her children, Skylar, 9, and Cash, 7, to Detroit Thursday night to experience their first outing in the city. The Westland family traveled over on the People Mover and dined on corn dogs and a bucket of french fries while waving flashing light sticks and cheering as the first “D” descended.

“We will do this, probably every year,” Nickert said. “We’ve had so much fun.”

Not far away, Valita Stanton, 26, of Inkster and her 4-year-old son, Marcus, were among those huddled together, sipping hot chocolate near a warming station next to the park’s massive holiday tree.

Stanton planned to drop her son off at home and to head back down.

“I really like the scenery down here,” she said. “I wouldn’t miss it.”