Holiday Light Displays Offer Outdoor Fun and Fundraising

By: Karen Dybis | December 4, 2020
Light Shows

Photo Courtesy of the Birmingham Shopping District.

One of the best things about the holiday season are the ways people decorate their homes and businesses with fresh garland, big bows and, most importantly, sparkling lights that add a festive flair to any spot. Whether they’re white, red and green or lots of colors combined, these holiday lights make the season bright and beautiful at the same time.  

This holiday season, the Birmingham Shopping District will host The Great Decorate, a holiday tree decorating competition in which restaurants and retail stores will partner with local artists to create spectacular holiday trees and compete to win a small business grant.

Another important part of the event focuses on raising awareness and funds for local foster teens. Each decorated tree represents one local foster teen selected in partnership with the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE), a statewide information and referral service for families interested in adoption. Every year approximately 26,500 teens ‘age-out’ of the foster care system – 1,700 in Michigan alone – and are forced to live independently with little to no resources.

“When a foster child becomes of age and is not adopted, they are sent off on their own, often becoming homeless with no support or anything to their name. This is referred to as ‘aging-out’ of the system and it is devastating,” said The Great Decorate co-founder and foster parent Tara Fortney. Tara, along with Beth Hussey, co-owner of Hazel, Ravines and Downtown restaurant, founded The Great Decorate in 2019 as a team-building competition among the staff.

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The event gained so much attention and success that Tara and Beth are welcoming all downtown businesses to participate this year. “We are so excited to bring back this charitable effort in an even bigger way in 2020,” said Hussey. “We want to work together with our community to help those who really need it.”

As visitors come to shop, dine and stroll through downtown Birmingham from November 27 – December 24, they are encouraged to view the uniquely decorated trees on display at each venue and vote for their favorite by donating any amount in person or online. All donations made through The Great Decorate non-profit are tax-deductible and will be divided equally among each of the foster teens. 

Some of the participating merchants include: 

  • Hazel, Ravines & Downtown 
  • Fab’rik Birmingham 
  • Harp’s Lingerie 
  • Urban Wick Candle Bar 
  • Greenleaf Trust 
  • Social Kitchen & Bar 
  • 220 Merrill
  • Churchill’s 
  • Luxe Bar & Grill 
  • Market North End

This list will continue to grow in the coming days as organizers anticipate more 40 participants and expect to raise about $2,000 per teen to be distributed just in time for the holidays.

Here are some other local holiday-light displays that will be going through January around Metro Detroit. 

Livonia Parks and Recreation

As the holiday season approaches, Livonia Parks and Recreation is gearing up with a wide offering of new or modified festive events for local families. Santa’s Mailbox and Santa’s Workshop Calling will both give children a chance to contact the big man, as Pet Photos with Santa will do for families’ furry friends. The Santa Stroll and Night of Lights will provide a chance for a colorfully lit visit with Santa at Greenmead Historical Park along with a Lunch with Santa event.


Corktown Aglow

One of Detroit’s favorite neighborhoods is hosting its 4th Annual Corktown Aglow, a Corktown Business Association event powered by many Corktown small businesses.

Stop by Corktown on Saturday, December 14th for heaps of holiday fun and family friendly festivities throughout the neighborhood including time with Santa and a tree lighting ceremony. You also can get your holiday shopping done at the Holiday Market featuring local vendors.

Wayne County Lightfest

Metro Detroiters of all ages know this is one of the largest lightfests in the area. Every Wednesday through Sunday, people can go through this massive display through December 31. The Wayne County Lightfest has a small entry fee of $5 for cars while larger vehicles are slightly higher (commercial Van/RV/Limousine $20 cash Mini-Bus (20 passenger) $25 cash Bus (40+ passengers) $50). The address for the Lightfest entrance is 7651 Merriman Road in Westland.

Crossroads Village & Huckleberry Railroad

Join family and friends for an evening drive through historic Crossroads Village, magically lit by over one million twinkling lights. See displays of your favorite holiday scenes as Christmas music fills the air. People can honor long-time traditions or make new ones this year with Crossroads Village’s Holiday Magic Drive Thru. The cost is $10 per carload for the drive-thru, which goes through Dec. 30.