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Local News / Entertainment

Friday, 24 December, 2010 2:23 AM

2011 Motown Winter Blast to feature new sponsors, family activities and extended hours

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Robert Gregory (President, Detroit 300 Conservancy), Charles Pugh (President, Detroit City Council), Robert Ficano (Wayne County Executive), Marcella Wilson (President & CEO, Matrix Human Services) and Jon Witz (Executive Producer, Winter Blast) at a special announcement for the festival on Dec. 22, 2010.

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

DETROIT -- Organizers of the Motown Winter Blast announced their plans on Wednesday morning at Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit. The festival is scheduled to return from Friday, Feb. 11 through Sunday, Feb. 13. Many of the same great activities offered at this year's Winter Blast will be available at the festival in 2011.

The General Motors Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) and GalaxE. Solutions are new sponsors of the Motown Winter Blast. One more sponsor is needed to bring back the popular snow slide, which is expected to cost $25,000.

"It's special for the city to keep it going each year," Executive Producer Jon Witz said. "It brings thousands of people downtown, supports local businesses, quality of life for families and it's a great way to bring people together. So many events in the summer, but this is the one winter event people can count on each year. We'll be announcing a line-up, Detroit's best of local bands: rock, blues, soul, funk, alternative, country, it will all be here at the Winter Blast. We work closely with the Movement folks. They bring DJs out as well."

Free ice skating will be available all weekend long, courtesy of Charter One Bank. The Rink at Campus Martius Park is actually larger in size than the ice rink at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Snowshoeing will also return as a way to get some physical activity at the festival. A new link on the Winter Blast website called "Get Fit at the Winter Blast courtesy of BCBSM" will offer some ideas of how festival goers can take part in exercise activities at the festival.

Radio Disney AM 910 will rock out with the D-Tour, a one-hour high energy show with games, music and tons of prizes for the whole family. The radio station will be located inside the Meijer Family Tent on Saturday and Sunday. Radio Disney AM 910 will offer a drawing to win a family trip to attend ESPN The Weekend at Disney's Hollywood Studios from March 3-6, 2011. Children will also have the opportunity to become a Sports Caster LIVE on the air.

"It's something that I think is the most fun," Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh explained. "You can ice skate for free, eat a lot of great food, you can snowshoe, do winter activities. You can celebrate the winter. A lot of people really don't like the cold and so they leave during wintertime. But Detroiters, we go outside. I think this year what we will see is more families experiencing this because there are a lot of families that are going through tough times with foreclosure issues or issues of unemployment."

Special snow cannons will create snow to guarantee the availability of snowshoeing and snow hills for children. Other outdoor activities that will return include marshmallow roasting, professional and amateur skating demonstrations, carved and lighted ice sculptures and more. Three music stages will offer over 50 FREE musical acts from almost every genre. In addition, there will be an arts and crafts area, food from 10 different restaurants and caterers.

Hours of the festival are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. In years past, the Winter Blast opened at 3 p.m. on the first day. Four more hours were added to the start time on Friday with support from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

"Not only the retailers and the restaurants, but Greektown and other places close to this location get the benefit of the people coming in," Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano said. "Plus, they get to embrace the winter culture that is in this area in southeastern Michigan. I think people are starting to have an expectation of coming down. I know they're trying to get the giant slide here again. Disney is bringing some new activities here as well. We're just trying to get people to lock in those dates in February."

Matrix Human Services and the Grosse Pointe Rotary return as the official charity partners of the festival. Attendees are asked to bring nonperishable food items, new clothing or books to the festival gates for their voluntary admission fee. All proceeds will be used to fight hunger in metro Detroit. Festival goers can also bring cash or a check to support the two charities.

"Matrix Human Services is a 106-year-old charity serving Detroit," President and CEO Marcella Wilson explained. "What we do is fight generational poverty. Not just with a handout, but with a hand up. Our philosophy is education, education, education. Our objective is to raise a million pounds and distribute it across the tri-county area within 30 days of receive. Last year, we raised 600,000 pounds and several thousand dollars for charity."

Witz said the festival is looking for one new sponsor to sign on. Another $25,000 is needed to cover the Winter Blast's $300,000 budget. Interested businesses or organizations should call the event office at (248) 334-4600.

The Motown Winter Blast started during Super Bowl XL in 2006. Last year, more than 75,000 people attended the festival at Campus Martius Park.

For more information on the Motown Winter Blast, visit www.winterblast.com.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

An ice carver puts the finishing touches on the Motown Winter Blast sculpture.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Witz is interviewed by a reporter from 760 AM WJR.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Ficano speaks to a cameraman from WDIV Local 4.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Pugh is interviewed by another Detroit news website.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Wilson and Witz roast marshmallows during a press conference.

 

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