BY FRANK KOOTSILLAS
The City of Cleveland III was a ship built in 1907 at the Wyandotte Ship Building Co. in Wyandotte. Her length was over 400 feet, making her the largest paddle-wheel steamer in the world and one of the most luxurious. She was built to carry 4,500 passengers, with sleeping accommodations for 1,500, with additional capacity to carry freight.
Unfortunately, just before her scheduled launch on June 30, 1907, she was heavily damaged by a fire while still in dry dock. Her elaborate interior was almost destroyed. After the reconstruction was completed in 1908, she made her first trial trip on April 22, 1908 and her maiden voyage on June 4, 1908 to Sault Ste Marie. She joined her sister ships of the D&C Fleet in Detroit. They were the Eastern States, the Western States, The Greater Detroit, The Greater Buffalo, and The City of Detroit III.
The City of Cleveland III traveled the Great Lakes profitably for 42 years, until that fateful day of June 26, 1950. On that day, she was heavily damaged in a collision with a Norwegian freighter, The Ravenfjell, in heavy fog off Harbor Beach, Michigan. There were eight fatalities and many injuries. Among the dead were the Benton Harbor Police Chief and the former Mayor of Benton Harbor. This was a special cruise chartered by the Benton Harbor Chamber of Commerce. It was headed for Detroit to watch the Detroit Tigers play the New York Yankees that afternoon. (read more…)
BY BRIAN RZEPPA
With a minuscule 4 percent success rate, businesses are simply not expected to ever hit the decade mark. For EmbroidMe on Biddle Avenue in Wyandotte, this year has served as a milestone that an overwhelming majority of businesses are never able to achieve.
The path that has been taken over the past 10 years has had its fair share of twists and turns, but the fact that EmbroidMe has made it this far is a testament to the hard work of their owners, Mark and Jennifer Lyons.
It has turned into a full-fledged career, but the embroidering business was not one that Mark Lyons had pictured himself working in over a decade ago.
“Ten years ago, the job I had went away and I had to do something because I was too old to get hired by someone else. My wife and I found this, so we just decided to run with it,” Lyons said.
While they were excited to get their business up and running, the economic climate was not one that was conducive to any business, new or established. Right out of the gate, they were served with the biggest challenge that they would face. (read more…)
BY SHEILA R. McAFEE
As thoughts turn to apples and pumpkins, organizers of the monthly Third Fridays in Wyandotte are planning a family friendly event for October.
The Beer Fest last month and the Wine Crawl in August catered to adults; now it’s time to focus on fun for all ages, said Jenna Smith, president of the Wyandotte Business Association.
Fall Festival is Oct. 21 beginning at 5 p.m., and the downtown district will be the backdrop for activities, which includes the popular Chili Trail (buy a ticket to sample an assortment of chili dishes). (read more…)
’Tis season for unique history lesson
BY SHEILA R. McAFEE
The city’s history comes to life through the spirits of its past during the Wyandotte Museums’ annual Cemetery Walk.
The event is taking place at Oakwood Cemetery Oct. 7 and 8, and will highlight the stories of the men, women and children who have been buried there since 1869, when land owner John Clark buried his daughter, Katherine.
The lucky ticket holders (the event sells out in mid-September every year) receive a brief history on Victorian mourning customs and etiquette at the historic Ford-MacNichol home before being transported to the cemetery for a walk along paths lit by candles and jack-o-lanterns. If weather conditions are optimal, an evening mist may circle throughout the grounds.
The evening continues back at the historic Marx Home with light refreshments and a presentation on Victorian séances and spiritualism, and the viewing of an Edwardian Hallowe’en party at the Ford-MacNichol home. (read more…)
BY JOE HOSHAW Jr.
Former Congressman John D. Dingell turned 90 July 8, and celebrated the occasion with get-togethers with friends and former staffers in Washington, D.C., and then again with friends and family at Silver Shores Waterfront in Wyandotte a little later in the month.
Several people offered Dingell their well wishes by video as well, but the best birthday greeting may have been the tweet posted by former President Bill Clinton, who called him “America’s Treasure,” and then jokingly thanked him for “pushing through the Louisiana Purchase” while in Congress. (read more…)
The first-ever Mimi’s Mission Fundraising Gala will include hors d’oeuvres, an eight-piece band and a live auction held at The Waterfront Grille, 507 Biddle in Wyandotte.
Organizers promise that the auction items will be incredible and are encouraging area residents to join the group for a night of friendship, fundraising and fun.
Mimi’s Mission is dedicated to helping the working poor in southeastern Michigan. Mimi’s Mission is different because they help ease the family burden working parents face who can’t make ends meet. It assists with household items such as soaps and toiletries. It is a 501(c)3, non-profit.
Founder Lisa Vilella said “Mimi’s Mission is simply a community outreach mission to help neighbors during their time of need.”
All proceeds of this event will be used to educate and enhance the community and those in need. If you are interested in being a sponsor or would like to purchase a ticket, call (734) 362-8240.
Tickets are $75 each. More information is available at facebook.com/mimismissiondr.
BY VON LOZON
The Trenton and Wyandotte street fairs, the Uncle Sam Jam in Wood-haven and even the fireworks on the Fourth of July have always been big summer events in the Downriver area.
But perhaps no Downriver event has a richer tradition than the PNC Roar on the River, which will observe its 66th running when it is held in Elizabeth Park July 15-17.
This year will be similar to previous years, including the powerboat races, concerts and a “Taste of the Races,” which features a selection of restaurants and caterers from the Downriver area. There will also be food vendors all throughout the park.
“It’s a tradition,” said Boat Race Director Fred Miller. “There’s a long history of boating and racing on the Detroit River.”
The boat races weren’t always at Elizabeth Park, however. They started at the “foot of Harrison Road” and then moved to the park in 1964. They were moved back to Harrison Road until 2004. The organizers tried to move back to the park in the 1990s, but at that time Wayne County, which operates the park, wouldn’t allow them to sell alcoholic beverages. The main sponsor for the event at the time was Budweiser, so the event wasn’t able to relocate until beer and wine sales were permitted beginning in 2004.
The event, which has been run by Trenton Rotary since the 1970s, used to be just about the boat races. Over the years though it has been expanded to include bands, other forms of entertainment and food vendors. The move from Rotary Park to Elizabeth Park 12 years ago allowed for even greater expansion of the offerings.
When the event was at Rotary Park there was just one hot dog stand and one soda stand. The event now features a midway-style food area featuring numerous vendors from throughout the area.
There are two types of boats that will be used for the races; the SST45 and the SST 200. The 45s are 13 feet long and have 75-horsepower engines. Its max speed is approximately 80 mph. The 200s are 17 feet long and have 200-horsepower engines. The 200 can reach anywhere from 110-120 mph. The designs of the two boats are the same.
“The boat drivers love to come to Trenton,” said Linda Francetich, Roar on the River director of marketing, entertainment and public relations. “From the event coordinators to the vendors and restaurants, we are very focused on this community-based event. Everything is put back into the community and it’s a perpetual giving process.”
For the entertainment, several bands will be playing Friday and Saturday night, including Your Generation, DTour Band and Phoenix Theory.
One individual who helps put together the music is Moe O’Shaughnessy, who works with the lighting, stage and sound. O’Shaughnessy was the drummer for the Detroit band Salem Witchcraft in the 1970s and ’80s. O’Shaughnessy also does sound and video work at Comerica Park. He currently resides in Allen Park.
“He’s amazing to work with,” Francetich said. “He’s very humble and is very low key. He has a real strong history with rock and roll. His talent and expertise, what he brings to the event is amazing.”
The first event, the Driver’s School, begins July 15 at 12 p.m. The school will teach inexperienced boat drivers the basics and provide them with hands-on training. SST 45 and 200 testings will commence on Friday, with the races slated for Saturday and Sunday. An award ceremony for the winners of the boat races will be on Sunday at 3 p.m.
Wyandotte resident Lisa Vilella, founder of Mimi’s Mission and owner/agent of the Lisa Vilella Agency, Farm Bureau Insurance in Woodhaven, recently was named the Wyandotte-Downriver branch of the American Association of University Woman’ 24th “Woman of the Year.” (read more…)
Businesses work to spread awareness in October
BY MELANIE YOUNG
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the businesses in the City of Wyandotte have special events planned to educate women about the disease, celebrate survivors and remember those who have been lost.
The fourth Annual Paint the Town Pink event is a community-wide effort to raise awareness and educate women on the importance of annual mammograms with the ultimate goal of preventing breast cancer. Visitors to Wyandotte during October will find a sea of pink ribbons lining Biddle Avenue, donated by BASF. (read more…)