Metro Detroiters enjoyed a VIP fireworks viewing experience at the sixth annual Ford Rooftop Party benefiting The Parade Company.
By Arianna Smith
Photography by Jessica Barris
The downtown Detroit skyline was filled with glittering bursts of color and sound for the 60th annual Ford Fireworks, a beloved summer tradition for pyrotechnic fans young and old.
Thousands gathered on downtown streets and rooftops Monday night to watch the explosive display organized by The Parade Company. The sponsor, Ford Motor Co., and others also hosted public events like the LITE Fest in Hart Plaza and activities in Campus Martius.
For those who didn’t mind spending a little extra money for a special experience, Ford Motor Co. offered the opportunity to get a taste of VIP treatment at its annual Rooftop Party. Ford and The Parade Company have hosted the fundraiser for all ages since 2013. This year’s party was held on the sixth and seventh tier of the Center parking garage, a stone’s throw away from the Renaissance Center.
“This was my first time ever going to the Ford party,” says Detroit resident Jeanette Schulte, who recently moved to the city from Southfield. “It’s so trendy and well organized. I’m glad I heard about it in time to buy tickets.”
The theme for this year’s Rooftop Party was “Come Alive in The D!” and Ford and The Parade Company took that to heart. Upon stepping off the elevator into the parking structure, guests were handed whimsical party favors, such as blinking emoji necklaces and wristbands, and free hats and tote bags.
The sixth floor of the parking garage was all about the kids. Arcade consoles, carnival games and interactive exhibits like life-sized Connect Four and Mrs. Pac Man lined the garage lanes. The MI Kids Can Be Active zone was a child’s paradise complete with ice cream carts and popcorn machines for no shortage of sweet, salty treats.
“The kid’s area is great, for them and for me,” says Detroiter Taniah Morgan, mother of two young kids. “They can get the ants out of their pants before the show, while I can kick back and relax up top.”
On the rooftop, the festivities were of a more mature caliber. Entrees and desserts provided by Andiamo were served buffet-style underneath white tents, while the Your Generation band and Detroit Duets performed live on two concert stages.
“They really go out of their way to make you feel like you’re getting the high-end treatment,” says party guest and Detroit resident Jeremy Hartwell. “The roasted corn and creamed spinach salmon was my favorite part.”
Guests also witnessed a flyover of WW2 bomber planes from the Yankee Air Museum and had an opportunity to be part of WDIV-TV’s live taping of their Ford Fireworks countdown leading up to the show.
This year’s special guest was Detroit native and rapper Big Sean. After his interview with WDIV, in which he praised the revival efforts in the city and spoke about his own future projects, the entertainer met and took photos with fans.
“I freaking love Big Sean,” says Royal Oak resident Courtney Sleimann, “I am too psyched about being able to meet him tonight. We had no idea he’d be here.”
In the final moments leading up to the fireworks, guests stood and waved American flags during the National Anthems of both the United States and Canada, sharing a moment of patriotism with attendees of the festivities across the Detroit River.
At 9:55 p.m., the barges on the river released a volley of fireworks to a chorus of applause, cheering and Katy Perry’s “Firework.” The show lasted approximately 20 minutes and concluded with a finale that could he heard and seen for miles.
“It looked like it was going to touch me,” says 10-year-old Mia Lewicki. “I want to see (the fireworks) like that every year up here.”