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Chamber kicks off Homecoming Friday with Special All-Stars, Cruisin' Dearborn

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The Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce will be kicking off the annual three-day Homecoming Festival Friday with the morning “Special All-Stars Day,” and the evening Cruisin' Dearborn. People have until tomorrow afternoon to get their registrations in to the Chamber office to participate.

The Chamber will partner with the city, Dearborn Community Fund and Wade Shows for the free three-hour event for special needs children and adults. From 9 a.m.-noon near the tennis courts at Ford Field Park (on Monroe Street, just north of Morley St.), volunteers will give participants an opportunity to enjoy Homecoming carnival rides and fun activities in a less crowded and more comfortable environment.

The Community Alliance Credit Union will present 150 classic cars again cruising the streets of Dearborn for this year's Homecoming. The cruise will end in a classic car show, that will continue until 10 p.m. at Ford Field Park, 22051 Cherry Hill.

The main festival will begin at 11 a.m. as the food court and community tent open. Headlining the main stage festivities from 8-10 p.m. will be Larry Lee & the Back in the Day Band. There will be free shuttle service to the festival Friday from West Village Drive and the parking decks from Military to Monroe from 5-8 p.m. (more hours may be added, for details visit www.cityofdearborn.org), and from Dearborn High School (free parking at Outer Drive north of Michigan Avenue) from 6-11 p.m.

Caretakers are welcome to sign up themselves and their children (or adults) with special physical, intellectual or emotional needs to participate in Special All-Stars Day. They must preregister by the Thursday afternoon deadline, by visiting the chamber website at www.dearbornareachamber.org, contacting Renee Aloe at raloe@dearbornareachamber.org, calling (313) 584-6100, or bringing a registration form to the chamber office at 22100 Michigan Ave. (or faxing 584-9818). The chamber office is open from 9-5 p.m. weekdays.

Aloe, the chamber membership director who is in charge of the Special All-Stars Day, said that year-by-year the event has met with evermore positive response. She said that members of civic organizations, and sponsors like Goodfellows and Services to Enhance Potential, provide many of the volunteers who put on the Special All-Stars Day activities.

“We've actually had more and more children and adults signing up, like more than doubled this year already,” Aloe said. “We've certainly got a lot of support from Dearborn residents and businesses.”

The Special All-Stars will be the guest of Wade Amusements from 9-11 a.m., and enjoy selected carnival rides for free. Volunteers will offer games, activities, a dance party, face painting and snacks around the tennis courts from 9 a.m.-noon. Light refreshments will be served in the south picnic shelter (Polish Tent), some of which Aloe said would come from the event's presenting sponsor Little Caesar’s Pizza on the corner of Monroe and Dartmouth, and also include potato chips from Better Made Snack Foods (other sponsors listed by Aloe for the event included Yogurtown, Sam's Club, Edible Arrangements and Del Taco).

Also on hand will be a deejay, MotorCityDJ.com's DJ Mark; Wright & Filippis, which will be providing minor wheelchair repairs; and Dearborn firefighters, who will bring a fire truck for the Special All-Stars to visit.

Festival parking on Ford Field charges $10, beginning 11 a.m. each day. Coupons for $7 parking will be given with the $10 payment, which Woodyard said will allow the drivers to leave and reenter that same day. Those parking on Ford Field to attend the Special All-Stars Day event prior to 11 a.m. will not have to pay the $10 charge, DCF Executive Director EmmaJean Woodyard said.

“They're (Homecoming morning events) are over shortly after 11, so people clear out (of Ford Field parking)," Woodyard said. "Especially for the All-Stars, you have people with walkers and chairs and other things, so they need to be fairly close by. I think the majority of them, after being there for three or four hours, they're ready to leave."

City vans will provide free shuttle service from West Village Drive (between Monroe and Military) from 5-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Free parking and free shuttle service are available at Dearborn High School. The Dearborn High shuttle will pick up festival-goers at the school parking lot on the west side of Outer Drive (north of Michigan Ave.) from 6-11 p.m. Friday.

Thursday afternoon will also be the deadline to sign up for Cruisin' Dearborn. The $15 per-vehicle registration can be completed online at www.dearbornareachamber.org, or by calling (313) 584-6100. Cruisin' Dearborn is open to classic cars ranging in model years from 1933-1989, and Chamber Events Director Ronald J. Hinrichs said that only 110 cars had signed up as of early Wednesday (he said there were room for up to 40 more, a couple more if the limit were reached before deadline closes registration for good).

The cruise starts at 7 p.m., Hinrichs said, from a drive that runs between the Dearborn Police Department (located at 16099 Michigan Ave.) and the Henry Ford Centennial Library. Dearborn Mayor John B. O'Reilly Jr. and Dearborn Heights Mayor Daniel S. Paletko are scheduled to lead the parade down Michigan Avenue through downtown west Dearborn, before the classic cruisers enter Ford Field Park off Cherry Hill, “and drive down the hill to park in the field at the bottom,” he said.

The chamber is adding a “pass-in-review” table to the cruise and car show, which will announce each vehicle's year, make and model as the cruisers enter Ford Field Park. Since the Ford Mustang is celebrating its 50th anniversary, Hinrichs said that this year's event will add “Best in Show Mustang” award in show judging, for all Mustangs accepted as cruisers. The event will also present a “Best in Show” award.

“We are looking forward to making this year's event even more memorable with the addition of the “pass-in-review” table,” Hinrichs said. “To prevent any vehicles from overheating, this will be a quick, yet exciting and unforgettable component of our event.”

Each cruiser will receive a certificate, a dash plaque sponsored by Village Ford, and a cruiser gift bag sponsored by Jack Demmer Automotive Group. The Burnin' Rubber sponsor is Karcher Insurance Agency, with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan also a sponsor. The Chamber works with the city to host the event.

For more information, please contact the Chamber by phone at (313) 584-1600 (latest Chamber news and events can be followed at facebook.com/DearbornAreaChamber, on Twitter @DearbornAreaChamber, or online at www.dearbornareachamber.org).

Former Detroit Lion Larry Lee will lead a nine-piece band in performing funk, jazz, classic rock and Motown songs from past and present on the Homecoming Main Stage. This band has shared other stages in the past with George Clinton, Smokey Robinson, Lionel Richie, the Temptations, and other acts. Doing the 6-7 p.m. warm-up concert on Main Stage will be the Pete “Big Dog” Fetters Band.

On the Food Court stage, Sunglasses After Dark will perform from 7-8 p.m., and Willie T. Clown will stroll the grounds from 6-8 p.m. The festival will have many favorites available for purchase from booths operated by Dearborn non-profit groups; including a variety of sandwiches in the Food Court such as gyros, pitas, pulled pork, and more. The groups participating in the Food Court, and highlights from their menus, are:

American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association: Senate Coney Island items; including loose hamburgers, gyros, and coney dogs.

Dearborn Firefighters Burn Drive: corn on the cob and orange drink.

Disabled American Veterans: butterfly chips, corn dogs, elephant ears, lemonade and cotton candy.

Edsel Ford High School Adult Athletic Booster Club: Gonella's Subs, walking tacos, pulled pork and hot dogs.

Exchange Club: philly sandwiches, chicken fajitas, veggie pitas, gyros, BLTs, fries, fresh-squeezed lemonade and smoothies.

Fordson Varsity Alumni Club: Gracie See's pizza.

From 4-11 p.m. Friday, attendees can find edible options from food trucks returning to this year's festival Food Court area. Confirmed for the 2014 festival on Friday:

Additional food trucks may be on hand during Homecoming. Dearborn non-profit organizations will be receiving funds raised from sales by these food trucks.

The Italian American Fraternal Club of Dearborn will serve mostaciolli, sausage sandwich, pizza, gnocchi, cannoli, and pane fritto. The Polish Legion of American Veterans will have stuffed cabbage, pierogi, kielbasa, sauerkraut, potato pancakes and other Polish food. Besides these traditional ethnic dishes, festival-goers can also enjoy entertainment at the Italian and Polish Pavilions, but Woodyard said the information was not in time to be posted in the Homecoming brochure, “so you're in for a surprise."

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission has directed for 2014 that perimeters be put around four designated areas: the Italian Pavilion (including the picnic area and bocce ball courts), the Polish Pavilion, the American Legion Tent, and the area west of the asphalt between Brady and the covered bridge (including the Main Stage, dining tent, community tent, and classic car show area). Visitors cannot buy alcohol at Homecoming except in a designated area, and these drinks have to be all drunk in that designated area and cannot be taken elsewhere through the grounds.

The Living History Hill will be open Friday from 4-7 p.m. Period campsites will be set up inside the circle on top of the hill, with re-enactors, a frontier kitchen and craftspeople.

New to Homecoming this year is an interactive display from Friends of the Rouge. From 4-8 p.m. Friday, FOTR representatives will be demonstrating how pollutants deposited on streets, parking lot pavement, catch basins and lawn can end up in adjoining bodies of water.

Another new tent opening at noon daily will be the Oakwood Healthcare Wellness Tent. It will offer free blood pressure checks, a nutrition information booth, and interactive healthy-eating activities from noon-4 p.m. each day. Oakwood will also operate an Access to Care information table with Healthy Michigan Plan until 6 p.m.

For the Wade Shows carnival (open 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday), the deadline to purchase wristbands online at www.cityofdearborn.org is 11:55 p.m. Thursday. Wristbands purchased online at www.cityofdearborn.org are $13, and a three-day Mega Pass can be purchased for $40 ( these require a $1 service fee for each wristband and pass purchased).

At the festival, the carnival will sell full-day wristbands for $20, and half-day wristbands (good for 11 a.m.-5 p.m.) for $15 (those who preregister to participate in the Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce's Special All-Stars Day can enjoy select carnival rides at no cost from 9-11 am. Friday). For more information on Homecoming activities, including on the link to purchase discounted carnival ride passes at www.cityofdearborn.org/homecoming, call (313) 943-2285 with any questions.

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