By ANGELA NIMS
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE — Plaid abounded downtown, as the Wyandotte Business Association’s Third Friday festival got underway. Unseasonably warm temperatures melted original plans for a January theme of Fire and Ice.
“We scheduled this Third Friday as Fire and Ice,” 360 Event Productions Event Coordinator Julie Law said, “but 10 days ago, we saw the weather forecast was calling for 45 degrees, so, we decided to create a fall festival for January, instead: Fire & Flannel.”
Just off of Biddle Avenue, Maple and Sycamore streets were dotted with booths peddling artisan wares, food, drinks and, perhaps the biggest hit with the younger visitors, marshmallow roasting stations.
Around a flaming barrel filled with lumber, Sheila Luff of Flat Rock watched as her son reached the long wooden marshmallow skewer into the flames.
Luff said the best part of the festival was “getting out of the house. We heard about it through friends and saw it on Facebook. What a nice event.”
“The night started slow, but quickly picked up,” Whiskeys on the Water employee Michael Ptak said. Whiskeys’ booth tempted passersby with bowls of cornbread and chili.
Fitting of the festive mood of the evening, Whiskeys employee Tony Leonard shared a couple of secrets of the recipe, “A lot of people don’t realize it, but this isn’t just regular chili. It’s bison meat and also has cactus in it.”
Not sharing any secrets of the trade was magician and escape artist Anthony Grupido, who appeared with Jade Jecca that evening. Nursing a burnt finger, Grupido did, however, offer a life lesson.
“Burned my finger, but not from twirling fire,” Grupido said. “It was from the kerosene candle. For a second, I forgot how long the metal stays hot. Will remember now.”
Grupido often appears at Third Friday events.
“Usually, it’s a magic and escape show, but with this month’s theme, I added fire,” he said. “Jade is fantastic with fire, and she’s a very good friend. We’ve put on about five shows already tonight and will probably do about nine of them. The crowds have been great.”
It didn’t take an escape from chains and strait jacket to impress Alexandra Rodriguez’s daughter.
“The kids got free cookies, which was awesome,” Rodriguez said. “My daughter adores ‘Frozen.’ When she saw the characters from ‘Frozen’ walking around, she absolutely loved them.”
Third Friday is a staple of the WBA’s attractions. WBA President Jenna Smith beamed with pride over the downtown offerings.
“There are so many great restaurants and shops,” Smith said. “The goal of the Third Friday events is to get everyone in, let them see the different districts. Every month we have different themes and attractions. We partner with the Downtown Development Authority to put on a great event each month.”
February’s third Friday is already being fleshed out. A “Mannequin Challenge” is in the works for February with a rock ’n’ roll music theme. Live mannequins will be featured in storefront windows and a wine tasting is possible, as well.
The Third Friday for March has a built-in theme: It falls on St. Patrick’s Day.
For more information on third Fridays and other WBA ongoings, please go to www.facebook.com/WyandotteBusinessAssociation.
(Angela Nims can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)