Events

By Sara E. Teller
Photos by Ashley Poirer

THE BERKLEY AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (BACC) IS DEDICATED TO CREATING A SPACE for business owners to come together to serve Berkley and our surrounding communities. The Chamber has organized many events and activities over the years, with this year being no exception despite the ongoing Covid pandemic.

Many great things have been happening around town in general, even as the world is faced with a ‘new normal.’ There are businesses continuing to come into Berkley, and the close-knit community has witnessed a growing number of people settling in, especially younger singles and families. Drawn to the area because of the ‘everyone-knows-everyone’ ambiance, free parking and many fun things to do, Berkley continues to be a go-to spot for newcomers.

BACC primarily supports small businesses by engaging in local events, organizing affordable marketing options, offering a high-volume social media presence, and initiating networking activities. In 2021, BACC was instrumental in supporting businesses through a grant from Oakland County. The Chamber offered PPE items for its members, as well as propane for outdoor heaters, hand sanitizer, wipes, and other items that weren’t in the budget before the pandemic hit. The Chamber ensured members were given as much online attention as possible, particularly regarding adjustments made to days and hours they were open, and the innovative ways owners came up with to continue serving residents.

“We organized very successful 2021 summer events that brought thousands of people to Berkley, in a strategic, safely-spaced manner,” explained BACC’s Executive Director, Darlene Rothman, adding, “We had beautiful days for these events, and everyone enjoyed being outside. You could feel the excitement in the air!”

BERKLEY ART BASH & STREET ART FEST: While the Berkley Art Bash is traditionally held annually during the second weekend in June, the event was postponed to September 11 this year to allow for more people to receive the Covid-19 vaccination. Pinspiration Berkley and Vibe Credit Union sponsored the Kids Zone. Nearly 100 vendors offered a diverse assortment of photographs, garden art, jewelry, pottery, wearables, paintings, and gourmet offerings.

“We expanded the footprint by a few more blocks to ensure more space between vendors and to allow for safer shopping,” said RoseAnn Nicolai, BACC Events & Operations Manager and owner of Nicolai Events & Communications. “A lot of the success of the event was due to April McCrumb, owner of Catching Fireflies and Yellow Door Art Market. She did such a great job curating the show and finding such talented artists to be vendors.”

The County Oakland Irish Fest group hosted the entertainment which included Doug Thompson, the Flanagan-O’Hare Irish Dancers and Michael O’Brian & the Distractions. Children who attended could either make a craft there or take a kit home. Pinspiration Berkley also had a splatter-paint tent where children could fling paint onto a small canvas, creating their own piece of artwork.

The Berkley Street Art Fest date was also postponed to August 7 this year due to the pandemic. Downtown Berkley was transformed with art as professional and aspiring chalk artists created colorful street art with chances to win prizes. Shop for Good Village, a newly-added component coordinated by VITRINE owner Susan Rogal, was a curated collection of handmade products made by sellers with a primary focus on ‘doing good’ on a local or global scale. A commissioned artist, Ed Irmen, created a mural at Folio Offices. People throughout Metro Detroit watched these artists as their masterpieces came to life. The event was presented by the MSU Federal Credit Union.

“We are looking forward to Berkley Art Bash returning back to its usual time of year in 2022, Nicolai said. “Mark your calendar for June 11, 2022. Berkley Street Art Fest date will be announced in 2022, and County Oakland Irish Fest, which the Chamber is a sponsor, will return on September 10, 2022.”

CRUISEFEST: The 2021 CruiseFest shirt, designed by Jon Murrell of Armadillo (owned by Dave Lakatos), was such a big hit that it sold out prior to the event for the first time in the CruiseFest’s history. The Chamber responded by adding a limited timeframe for residents to purchase them online.

The shirt was created to promote the 25th anniversary of the CruiseFest, which was held on August 20, 2021. The event draws car lovers from all over and includes a parade of classic vehicles for attendees to enjoy. Darron Moore & the 14th Floor provided the event’s entertainment. New for 2021, the Berkley Parks & Recreation hosted an outdoor movie experience in front of the Neighbor’s Shoppe. The film Grease was screened immediately following the parade.

RESTAURANT WEEKEND & NIGHT MARKET: BACC partnered with the Berkley DDA to bring, for the first time, a Restaurant Weekend to downtown Berkley the first weekend of October. Katie Kutscher and Christine Gross, sister owners of Berkley Common, also helped pulled together this amazing event.

“Berkley Common was the driving force behind this,” Rothman said. “Katie initiated the conversation, encouraging us to do something to help the restaurants.” The owners wanted everyone (BACC, DDA, and the participants) to join together as a team to bring extra attention to the restaurant community during an especially difficult time.

Those who participated included Berkley Common, 24 Seconds, Amici’s Kitchen & Living Room, Casa Amado Tacqueria, Coco Fairfield’s, Crispelli’s, Dog & Pony Show Brewing, Fresh Collective Kitchen & Market, Green Lantern, Oak Park Social and Republica. Each eatery had food and drink specials local foodies could retrieve online by scanning a QR code or simply take note of signs placed around town.

The same weekend, the DDA Night Market was held on October 2nd, giving residents the opportunity to visit their regular go-tos after hours and explore new businesses along the way. Retailers stayed open late to give visitors a magical night-time shopping experience. A complimentary downtown trolley sponsored by the Berkley DDA ran throughout the event and dozens of storefronts transformed with spooky décor.

The retailers who participated included Articipate, The Artsy Umbrella, Fresh Collective Market, GateKeeper Games, …Have You Any Wool?, June & December, Peninsulas, Pinspiration Berkley, PUCK HCKY, Red Arrow Tattoo Collective, Reware Vintage, Toadvine Books, Tootie & Tallulah’s, The Twisted Shamrock, Ullman’s Health & Beauty and VITRINE.

Rothman said, “The restaurants and retail stores were thrilled that the community supported them by eating and shopping locally, for as many items as possible and being gracious to their staff as many are understaffed. The holidays are approaching soon, so please consider buying local to support these businesses.”

STATE OF THE CITIES: The State of the Cities event, produced by CMNTv and sponsored by Beaumont Health, was held virtually on October 28, 2021. The purpose of the event is to provide an opportunity for local government entities including the City of Berkley, City of Huntington Woods, the Berkley School District, the Berkley Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and the BACC, to report out to the community about the accomplishments and issues faced over the past year as well as talk about what is up-and-coming.

The Chamber honored local businesspeople and organizations during the State of the Cities that had been especially supportive of the Berkley community. Its Best of Berkley awards are traditionally given to Chamber members who exemplify leadership, have passion for the area, and go out of their way to support businesses with a commitment to making the community shine.

Rothman added, “This past year, with the pandemic, they had to be especially creative and think outside of the box.” The 2021 recipients focused largely on ensuring that the community flourished despite the Coronavirus.

THE 2021 CHAMBER HONOREES INCLUDED VITRINE, owned by Susan Rogal, as Business of the Year, and Robyn Cohen, owner of Sum Girls Boutique, as Businessperson of the Year.

VITRINE and Rogal have been instrumental in bringing attention to downtown Berkley businesses, especially along the Coolidge Corridor, where VITRINE is located.

“VITRINE is always coming up with new ways to promote Berkley, and Susan personally recruits businesses to participate in the downtown shopping events,” Nicolai said. “Susan is so willing to help new businesses on Coolidge succeed by offering them advice and connecting them with people who can help.”

“In particular, they were instrumental in growing this year’s Berkley Street Art Fest, using their summer marketing dollars usually allocated to promoting their business,” Nicolai said. “And their staff personally, on their own, promoted the event.”

The second honoree, Robyn Coden, “is a champion for downtown Berkley and its businesses,” Nicolai said. “At least once a month, she has an event that brings different vendors and businesses to town to promote at her store. She also consistently donates, both monetarily and of her time, to the community, civic groups, and Berkley Schools.”

Coden regularly employs students from Berkley High School and Anderson Middle School to work in the store and creates cross-promotional opportunities with other businesses. She has recruited new businesses to open their storefronts in Berkley, and through her social media presence, she is always drawing attention to these businesses.

Nicolai explained, “Both honorees are passionate about making sure everyone in downtown Berkley succeeds.”

Rothman and Nicolai are especially grateful to the “wonderful writers of this annual City Guide who all do a fantastic job.”

For more information on BACC activities and events, or to become a member, visit the Chamber’s newly launched site: www.berkleychamber.com

By Kevin Lamb

The words “Jazz” and “Cats” have long been synonymous, but these days, it’s being taken to a whole ‘nother level. Mostly started in Korea and South Asian countries, cat cafes have been a popular trend throughout the world for some time.

“Jazz. What cat doesn’t like jazz? It’s as though jazz was created as a soundtrack for a cat’s life: John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, the usual suspects. We also play a lot of Brazilian jazz from the 1960’s and the cats seem to dig it,” Executive Director of Ferndale Cat Shelter, Deanne Iovan says.

But don’t be fooled, you can’t actually bring your cat to the Catfe Lounge, enjoy a coffee, and groove to some Coltrane while contemplating your mutual place in the cosmos.

“Many people don’t realize that we have been open for six years on Livernois in Ferndale. Some people also think they can bring their cats there to play with other cats, like a dog park. Not a good idea! Cats are very different from dogs and all of our cats are rescues who need forever homes. We are a part of Ferndale Cat Shelter and as such, licensed with the Michigan Department of Agriculture as a cat shelter.”

Turns out, it’s jazz for cats who need homes! Can you dig?

“WE KNEW WE COULDN’T AFFORD to build out a proper coffee shop right away since we were just in our first year as a non-profit. So we decided to offer self-serve coffee and tea instead. I pitched the idea to our very small board of directors and they surprisingly agreed. We did a small kickstarter fundraiser and opened on a shoestring. Since then, we have grown and taken over the space next door.”

Since I don’t believe in coincidence, it’s probably not one that Catfe Lounge on Livernois is just a half-a-mile away from the longest continually running Jazz establishment in these United States, Baker’s Keyboard Lounge.

“We always need dedicated volunteers. Animal rescue work succeeds on the backs of people who volunteer their time and energy to helping animals in need. Without volunteers, most rescues would not exist.”

YouTube alone assures me y’all are cat crazy…while history itself speaks for jazz, making this a classic “twenty nine or two-for-fifty” (Mr. Alan’s commercial) type of volunteering opportunity, people! Have I mentioned how healthy helping others and Ferndale felines is for an anxious mind?

“Our biggest obstacle right now is finding the space, time and veterinary care for all of the animals who need it. The pandemic quarantine brought many new fosters into rescue since they were staying home. Now that number has dwindled because everyone wants to get out and get back some normalcy in their lives. Veterinarians have been scrambling to catch up with the demand for spaying and neutering since many clinics closed or could only perform emergency surgeries during the pandemic. The veterinary profession is a hard road and requires an enormous amount of education and training. The financial payoff is meager compared to human doctors, yet veterinarians have to learn the physiology of so many species. It’s a thankless job most days. I feel their struggle.”

THE CATFE LOUNGE IS EXCITED to start having events again! “We have yoga classes twice a month and will be bringing back the ever-popular Cat Bingo in September. As always, we are looking to expand our footprint in the community and that means finding a larger facility to move forward with a coffee shop to create a sustainable non-profit business model. It’s always better when you don’t have to beg people for money!”

Each of us has an opportunity to show up for community in a unique way; different gifts bring different passion but indifference always ends the same. Perhaps you’re looking to show up in your cat’s pajamas to connect and engage with Ferndale in your way, maybe this could be it.

“Our volunteers and fosters! There are so many to be grateful for. And our veterinarians who step up to help even when they are overworked. We are very lucky to have so many good people helping our organization. On that note, building relationships in the community and fostering those relationships is so important to succeed in our mission. Each one of us plays a vital role.”

By Ryan R. Ennis

WHETHER YOU’RE AN aspiring actor or director, or just seeking entertainment, the non-profit organization Michigan Stage has something for you. With its goal “to produce theatre in enriching, refreshing new ways directly within the community of Ferndale and greater Oakland County,” opportunities abound for escaping from the monotony of the daily grind by indulging the imagination.

At Michigan Stage studio locations this summer, instructor/ artists with strong creative drives conducted summer youth playlabs for students ages 7 to 13. During the sessions, the instructors helped students develop themes and dramatic moods for designing skits and short sketches centered around D.I.A. (Detroit Institute of Art) works on display in the community. Under the artists’ tutelage, the students learned how to breathe life into their ideas through performances at small local venues. The classes have served as meaningful ways for children and adults to express their creativity.

The playlabs fall under the wings of the organization’s Performing Arts Academy, whose vision is a commitment to “upholding the professionalism of the performing arts community.” To execute that vision, the academy provides resources such as intensive tenweek theater workshops scheduled in the evenings for students ages 13 to 22. Also available are individual voice and dance lessons along with workshops on contemporary pop-rock Broadway composers. A youth ensemble assists with the academy’s artistic and administrative direction.

Another opportunity offered through Michigan Stage is its play-reading group – Michigan Page – in which group members analyze and critique theatrical works via Zoom. Selections include both contemporary and classical drama. Guest speakers help to facilitate the meetings by providing discussion points and background on the texts. Most recently, in April, participants read and interpreted Sarah Ruhl’s Orlando, based on Virginia Wolf’s popular genderfluid character who lives for centuries and re-examines history through encounters with key figures of English literature. Michigan Page’s bimonthly meetings plan to resume in January 2022, at a local library. Says a Michigan Page participant about the club, “(It’s) an environment where the love of theatre is nurtured . . . and impactful discussions are fostered in a relevant way.”

Leading the cast at Michigan Stage is founding Artistic Director Tim Paré, a Michigan State University graduate with an impressive résumé. Previously, he held the titles of Educational Director for two stage companies where he developed theater arts programs for youths and young adults. By directing and choreographing his students in musicals and other performances, he annually reached 7,500 community members. College students have also enrolled in his workshops and courses on how to audition performers, dance professionally, and manage stage productions.

In forming his company, Paré has striven “to expose audiences both new and old to the performing arts in new ways – to nurture a curiosity to explore the world around us through…community theater productions.”

As part of fulfilling his mission, Paré directed three free concerts entitled Broadway in the ‘Burbs, all performed on August 7 at The dot (Development on Troy) in downtown Ferndale. The shows featured Broadway cast members singing tunes from Beautiful: The Carol King Musical, Dear Evan Hansen, and other hits. Before and after each performance, gatherers were able to meet the singers, as well as chat with the fire and police department workers who were on hand with activities and information on city services.

Up next for Paré and Michigan Stage is Looking Back Through Stained Glass, a family-friendly musical that explores the styles of punk rock and heartbeat pop music in addition to the themes of rebellion and selfacceptance. Starring in the production will be Drag superstar Nancy Nogood and recording artist Ugochi Nriaka. Performed at the Ant Hall in Hamtramck, the musical will run from September 30th through October 9th.

For more information on Looking Back Through Stained Glass, autumn playlabs, and other Michigan Stage events and programs, visit www.michiganstage.org. You can also keep up to date by joining the mailing list. To contact Tim Paré directly, email him at tim@michiganstage.org.

By Kevin Alan Lamb

I BELIEVE THE PANDEMIC HAS GIVEN EACH OF US A better understanding of what is meaningful in our lives, that which we take pride in, and those who comprise our tribe.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the prevalence of absence within our community, along with the events that help define its character, delivered a gut check that we will continue to recover from.

Unable to attend concerts, sporting events, and pastimes like Ferndale Pride, many were denied access to their community, and to the very ingredients which breathe life into their blood. Accessibility and inclusiveness are two qualities that Julia Music, Executive Director of Ferndale Pride, builds their foundation upon.

“One of the main things we try to do is engage the entire community, so we will have a number of organizations representing the LGBTQA. We were not able to get all of them, but we were able to get LGBTQ represented from different groups. Also, we have lots of different political backgrounds, lots of different religious and non-religious backgrounds represented in our non-profit booths. That is a big component in making sure our Pride festival is very inclusive.

We also have a lot of medical and social services available throughout our Pride festival. We will have STI testing on the street with the Matrix MAC Health Mobile Unit, and free COVID vaccines going this year so people who want to get a vaccine can come get one.”

New to Ferndale Pride this year, in addition to it taking place on Saturday, October 2, will be a third stage programmed inside 215 West Ferndale.

“We are very lucky that Liv Cannabis bought the main stage, and Green Buddha and Thoughts & Prayers are putting on the DJ Dance stage. They are very excited to be joining us this year for the first time ever. We will have 187 booths, and they are all sold out, totally full. Over 200 volunteer slots will be filled by lots of people, helping out, getting the day going, and that is really exciting to see.”

IF PEOPLE WANT TO HELP, THEY CAN VISIT FERNDALEPRIDE.COM where they can sign up to volunteer or donate. They will begin working on Pride 2022 in November.

“A silver lining that emerged from these pandemic times: We got to see places like The Candle Wick Shoppe, which is a small business in Ferndale, come back for the third year with their naming rights sponsorship, ensuring we could actually put on the event because that takes care of a large chunk of our expenses. We have really been lucky that so many businesses were able to do well during the pandemic and come back to support us, and that contributes to the fact that we are not charging again this year at the gate. There’s no gate, actually – you can just walk right in, free of charge. Bring your whole family because of our fundraising efforts and our sponsors.”

Other events happening in conjunction with Ferndale Pride include an interfaith prayer service on October 29, from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM at Schiffer Park. A multitude of different religions will be represented in prayer for a good Pride festival.

MotorBall has moved Pride Weekend, so that will be a ticketed event that you can purchase tickets for if you’re interested in going to all of those club events. TG Detroit will put on their Invasion during Pride so transgender men and women and their allies are welcome to buy tickets for those events. Lots of things to do throughout the week and weekend and we are just very excited to bring Pride back to Downtown Ferndale.”

By Sara Teller

Habitat for Humanity for Oakland County (HFHOC), headquartered in Pontiac, is an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) and is dedicated to carrying out the mission to help create “a world in which everyone has a decent place to live.”

HFHI is a global housing nonprofit that operates in nearly 1,400 communities across the United States and approximately 70 countries around the world. Since 1995, HFHOC has helped more than 900 low to moderate-income residents gain access to safe and affordable housing, focusing primarily on providing services in Southfield and Pontiac.

“Through our programs, we practice the philosophy of ‘a hand up, not a handout,’ by partnering with home-buyers and homeowners to purchase a safe home with an affordable mortgage or complete necessary projects at a modest price,” explained Katie Brumfield, HFHOC’s Marketing & Communications Associate. Programs include offering affordable home ownership opportunities for families making 50 to 80 percent of the area’s median income, financial coaching, critical repairs, and neighborhood revitalization initiatives.

HFHOC has several local events in the works for 2021. The nonprofit plans to hold three Rock the Block events June 3 and 5, August 5 and 7, September 30 and October 2, which will bring together homeowners, volunteers, community sponsors, and Habitat Oakland staff to offer minor exterior home repairs to homeowners.

“Volunteers work with Habitat’s construction staff to repair porches, install fences, replace cracked concrete, clean gutters, and complete lawn clean-up.” Brumfield said, adding, “This program ensures that homeowners reside in safe housing, enables seniors to age-in-place, maintains and increases home values, and fosters neighborhood stability.”

Later this fall, on November 12, HFHOC will also hold its Annual Fall Gala. Planning is still in the works, and the Events Page at www.habitatoakland.org/events will have more information in the near future along with any other upcoming HFHOC happenings.

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY FOR OAKLAND COUNTY HAS MADE a significant impact in local communities over the past year, in general, despite the pandemic. In March 2020, HFHOC was forced to suspend volunteer activities, closing their ReStores except for virtual sales with office staff transitioning to working from home. Since that time, however, it has developed a strategy aligned with new COVID-19 guidelines, reopening closures, and hosting two Rock the Block events in 2020, completing over 100 external projects at 25 homes.

“2020 marked our 25th anniversary,” Brumfield said. “Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County is proud to have adapted, reacted thoughtfully, and ended 2020 ready to continue our mission in 2021. The need for affordable housing for low to moderate income individuals and families has never been more urgent. We are excited to continue building homes, communities and hope for our friends and neighbors.” She added, “Despite the challenges, we stayed focused on and continue to work toward our vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Oakland County needs the stability and hope that decent housing and equitable access can help foster.”

The organization also received grant funds in 2020 to launch a much-needed home repair program. Brumfield explained, “Through a sizable grant from Oakland County and United Way for Southeastern Michigan, we were able to launch a critical home repair program in September 2020 that provides needed exterior repairs for homeowners in Oakland County so that they may maintain a safe, decent and affordable place to live. Our new Roofs, Ramps & Repairs Program enables us to serve a broader audience.”

Businesses interested in learning more about how to partner with HFHOC can call 248-318-5491 or email annd@habitatoakland.org. Rock the Block 2021 sponsorship opportunities are currently available. Individual volunteer opportunities are also available at habitatoakland.org/volunteer.

“In addition to volunteering, individuals can shop at or donate to our ReStores,” Brumfield said. “We also encourage you to stay up-to-date by liking and following us on Facebook and Instagram.”

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HOPE FOR THE HOLIDAYS: BLUE CHRISTMAS St. Patrick’s in Madison Heights will offer a candlelight Service of Hope on December 11th, 7-8pm, for all who are struggling at this time of year because of concerns such as health issues, financial challenges, unpleasant memories of past Christmas experiences, or the loss of a loved one. Special music, prayers, and an inspiring message of encouragement.

FERNDALE GARDEN CLUB: Presentation on Using Dead Wood in the Garden. Thursday, January 9, 2020, 7 p.m. at Kulick Community Center, 1201 Livernois. Guests are welcome. For more information, call 248-541-6427.

FERNDALE GARDEN CLUB: Presentation on Earth Friendly Permaculture Design to Grow Food for Health and Financial Independence by Rachel and Brian Engel. Thursday, February 13, 2020, 7 p.m. at Kulick Community Center, 1201 Livernois. Guests are welcome. For more information, call 248-541-6427.

SUPER SNOW CONE STORYTIME and Crafts with Cowboy Alex, Listen to Cowboy Alex read snowy stories, joke around with his puppet pals and do silly magic tricks. Plus, kids & their grown-up will make an awesome winter craft project using recycled material. Good for kids 3-8 years. Thurs, December 12th @ 10:00 am – 10:45 am, 5.00 per child, Royal Oak Salter Community Center. 1545 East Lincoln, Royal Oak.

FERNDALE GARDEN CLUB: Join our fun, garden-oriented group. We meet the second Thursday of each month, September through May, at 7 pm at the Kulick Community Center. We have entertaining and informative presentations on gardening, the environment, animals and photography. Meet new people with similar interests. Membership is $20.00 per year. To learn more about other membership benefits, call 248-541-6427.

“CLIMATE CHANGE & YOU”: An environmental awareness presentation. Sponsored by The Southeast Michigan Group of the Sierra Club. “Climate Change & You” is a Free powerful Power-Point presentation that adapts to all ages and groups, and defines current environmental issues. Mr. Gerald Hasspacher, jhasspac@gmail.com

HAVE YOU HEARD THE RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR? Great weekly podcast, with over 200 shows, wide range of subjects. Recent episodes include Midterm Postmortem, Solar Power, Fighting Nurses, Ebola, Smart Meters, Be informed, ralphnaderradiohour.com

By Jeff Milo, Circulation Specialist

Mostly Fine Free: Let’s get to the big news first: We are no longer assessing overdue fines for a majority of our circulating items! There will still be fines on new materials (in adult fiction/non-fiction, DVDs & CDs, as well as our wi-fi hotspots). Still, if it’s a regular three-week loan book, a one-week loan DVD, or, even better, an item from the children’s or teens’ collections, there will no longer be a penalty for late returns. We really just want the materials back! And while there are still fees for lost or damaged items, we’re really friendly about those. We’d love to see your smiling face in the library again.

Youth & Teen Programs: We’re now four stops into our ongoing monthly off-site storytime series, Storytime Stopover. Our Youth Services Librarians head out into the community and host events and activities for young readers inside local businesses. We’ve been at Drifter Coffee and EnSoul Yoga, and next, on December 9, we’ll be at the Detroit Cookie Company. Call 248-546-2504 and ask for the Kids Corner to register.

Other events for kids include a “Cozy Storytime” on December 13, for ages 3-5. That same day, in the evening, we’ll be hosting a special event for teens, inspired by the original ‘90s Nickelodeon program (as well as its recent reboot) “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”. The Midnight Society program for teens will feature games and crafts between 6:30 P.M. and 8:30 P.M. For more information on the Midnight Society for teens, you can once again contact the Kids Corner (248-546-2504, x. 694).

Winter Break Events for Kids: With school-age children set to be home for a while following the holidays, your library will be ready to serve as an excellent boredom-buster station. Get out of the house and come to a weeklong series of events! Programs include Gingerbread House decoration workshop on December 26 (ages 4+), a make-your-own Shoebox Foosball craft on December 27 (ages 8-12), an introduction to freerunning and parkour with Phoenix Free Running on December 28 (this is for ages 7+ and registration is required). We’ll wind down before the New Year on December 29 with a fun “Popcorn, Pajamas, & a Movie” for ages 2-10.

In the New Year: Our Youth Librarians will be at Ferndale Upper Elementary on Rosewood St on January 7, launching 2020’s Battle of the Books for fifth graders. Students can form groups of 2-4, creating their own team names for the competition and are even encouraged to design their own uniforms/costumes. There will be six books for students to choose from, and the “battle” is a tournament-style quiz about the plot, themes, and characters of their selected title. For more info on the Battle of the Books, follow us online at facebook.com/ferndalelibrarykids.

For adults, we’ll be continuing our four-part series on “How to Hygge Winter Away,” on January 9. If you register ahead of time, you can attend this life brightening workshop on suncatchers, which are basically the indoor, light-refracting version of wind chimes. Hygge is a Nordic/Danish lifestyle trend of cultivating coziness and contentment in our lives. Register by phone at 248-546-2504.

Coming up in the New Year, our monthly series of free yoga classes by Motor Om kicks back off for 2020 on January 12. We also have drum circle leader Lori Fithian bringing “Drummunity” here at the end of February. After that, on February 6, we’ll be hosting a special Oscars-themed film discussion.

By Sara E. Teller

THERE ARE MANY OPTIONS FOR RESIDENTS OF Huntington Woods, Berkley and the surrounding areas to get out and meet their neighbors by joining local clubs. The Huntington Woods Mens Club, Huntington Woods Womens League, Berkley Dads Club and Berkley Junior Womens Club are all long-standing nonprofits that offer fun activities, events, and fundraising opportunities throughout the year.

Huntington Woods Mens Club

THE HUNTINGTON WOODS MENS CLUB (HWMC) BEGAN IN 1977 with two dozen residents who were looking to establish a civic- minded group. Today, there are over 150 members who engage in multiple fundraising efforts and events such as the annual 4th of July parade.

“Our biggest event each year is the HWMC Service Auction,” president Michael Egnotovich explained. “This is held every March and 800 guests come to the Huntington Woods Recreation Center for food, drink and the chance to bid on over 400 auction items ranging
from $25 gift cards to an African safari.” He added, “We also coordinate an
annual cider sale with the Huntington Woods Women’s League every October and hold a raffle fundraiser for the city’s 4th of July fireworks display.”

The Club regularly raises over $150,000 at its auctions, with over $2,000,000 raised in total to date, and uses this money to fund local groups or city projects such as parks and equipment. Egnotovich said, “The Club has been making these contributions for over 35 years. We have also helped fund Berkley school district programs, such as offering concert wear for the BHS orchestra, raincoats for the marching band, and fabrication equipment for the Berkley Robotics team.”

The annual cost of membership is $75. Monthly meetings are held in members’ backyards during the summer and at indoor locations during the winter. For more information, please visit hwmc.org.

Huntington Woods Womens League

THE HUNTINGTON WOODS WOMENS LEAGUE (HWWL) STARTED IN 1970 with a mission to bring together women so that they can exercise their energies and abilities to benefit themselves and their community by promoting civic, cultural, educational and social welfare. The club meets the second Wednesday of every month at residents’ homes.

The HWWL hosts a number of events throughout the year, including a Ladies Night Out, cookie exchange, and Euchre parties, as well as fundraising efforts including an annual home tour and gala. Funds are donated to three major categories of recipients: community, education, and women and children’s interests.

Lynne Sullivan, who has been the club’s president for the past two years, said, “The home tour is our biggest fundraising event. We inherited it from the Library. Every year, there are five homes involved with a sixth reserved for the gala the night before the tour
begins.” Historically, this event, which takes place the first Sunday in June, has brought in 400-500 people with an increase in interest every year.

The HWWL currently has 45 members, and the annual dues are $35. For more information, visit hwwl.org.

Berkley Dads Club

THE BERKLEY DADS CLUB IS IN ITS 71ST YEAR, having started in 1948 with civic activities primarily focused on baseball, hockey, boxing and wrestling. Today, the focus of the club is on baseball with the organization attracting over 800 players every year and offering spring baseball, a travel club, and other related programs and clinics. Those affiliated with the Berkley School District can play in the summer league, including those enrolled in schools-of-choice.

“We get players from Royal Oak, Madison Heights, and even further out,” said President Mike Kerby, who was a player himself years ago and has been in his position for nine years.

The organization hosts a fundraising raffle every year, as well as Euchre parties, squares parties, and other events. The funds go towards parks and recreation initiatives, including improvements for existing facilities as well as the construction of new spaces.

“We donate to baseball fields and surrounding parks. We also put in a batting cage in Huntington Woods,” Kerby said.

For more information, visit berkleydadsclub.org or email berkleydadsclub1@gmail.com.

Berkley Junior Womens Club

BERKLEY JUNIOR WOMENS CLUB IS A NONPROFIT THAT STARTED with twelve members in 1985. The club’s mission is to develop and foster projects of civic betterment and promote leadership training and cooperative action among its members. It meets the third Wednesday of every month at the Berkley Community Center at 7:00 P.M.

“Our group engages in a variety of volunteering,” explained President Lisa Kempner. “The majority of it is local to Berkley, but we also participate in events outside of Berkley, such as Race for a Cure. We collaborate with a multitude of other non-profit organizations and city departments to help wherever we can.” She added, “Many of our events are a collaborative effort. We work with Berkley Parks & Recreation to put on Boofest, the Daddy-Daughter Dance, Mother-Son Fun Night, and Breakfast with the Bunny. We work with the Holiday Lights Parade Committee for the tree- lighting ceremony, and with the Downtown Development Authority in putting on the Robina Rhapsody concert series. We also work with the Berkley Days Association to sponsor an event during Berkley Days, and we sponsor Candy Cane Lane at the Berkley Community Center.”

The group offers an annual scholarship to a female Berkley High School student that demonstrates a high level of volunteerism, and each year, the club works with Berkley-Huntington Woods Youth Assistance to sponsor a family for Christmas and to send children to camp in the summer.

The club is open to women over the age of 21. There is a $20 membership fee. Those interested can attend a meeting or email berkleyjuniors@yahoo.com.

By Sara E. Teller

THE BERKLEY AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE HAS 150 MEMBERS IN BERKLEY, HUNTINGTON
WOODS, AND NORTH OAK PARK. Members include restaurants, retail stores, professional business services, real estate agents, financial, insurance, and legal services, education and health and wellness providers, non-profit organizations, auto care companies, home-based businesses, wedding service providers, salons, and more.

The Chamber and its members are dedicated to creating and sustaining a positive business climate by connecting with each other, local governments, and the community. Darlene Rothman, Executive Director, and RoseAnn Nicolai, Events & Operations Manager, have been with the Berkley Area Chamber since 2012.

“I’ve been the Executive Director for over seven years,” explained Rothman. “I was a Huntington Woods resident for over 27 years and was upset when the economy was affecting local businesses in Berkley. These businesses do a lot to support the community, and it was important for the community to support them during challenging times. When the job opportunity arose to work for the Berkley Area Chamber, I was excited to do what I could to help.”

Of her position, Nicolai said, “I have an event planning and association management company, and I have been a resident of Berkley since 1997. So, when an opportunity came up to work on events within the city where I live, I jumped at the opportunity. A year later the Chamber asked my company to take over the administrative tasks so Darlene could focus on recruiting new members and helping our current members.”

Understanding the importance of investing in local businesses, Nicolai added, “I believe having a thriving business community is an important component of making Berkley a great place to live. Local businesses are the ones who are more likely to donate to local causes and groups. They have an investment in the community. So, helping these businesses thrive is important.”

The Berkley Area Chamber is responsible for many fun, annual activities, some of which include:

THE BERKLEY ART BASH, the 2nd Saturday in June. Chaired by April McCrumb, owner of Catching Fireflies and Yellow Door Art, this fair attracts crowds of over RoseAnn Nicolai, Events 10,000 people who come to find hip handmade wares from over 150 artists and makers, listen to live music, eat great food, and participate in children’s activities.

THE BERKLEY STREET ART FEST, the second Saturday in July. Commissioned artists create murals on various spaces, and children and adults have the opportunity to create their own chalk art. Street performers and musicians are also there to entertain throughout the day.

THE BERKLEY PUB CRAWL, late August. This event highlights Berkley’s bars and restaurants.

THE STATE OF THE CITIES BREAKFAST, the 4th Friday in October. This event offers an opportunity for local government entities to report out to the community the accomplishments and issues from the past year as well as touch on what is forthcoming.

Rothman said, “As a team, we’ve increased the positive aspects of the community, so more [businesses] can grow and prosper. So many wonderful members go above and beyond to help create events, marketing concepts, and volunteer.”

The Chamber’s Board of Directors is grateful to all those who participate, companies and residents alike. Rothman said, “Most [members] are small business owners who do it all and still do what they can to help the greater good of the community. We have wonderful business owners, managers, and employees who create a warm and inviting atmosphere in Berkley and beyond.” She recognizes that residents also contribute to the Chamber’s mission, saying, “The residents are very loyal in supporting local businesses, which is what makes new businesses gravitate here. Strengthening downtown Berkley helps retain residents and attract new residents. Having the Berkley School District so strong is a major anchor to the entire mix. Public Safety makes sure the community is safe. It’s a win-win for all.”

The Berkley Area Chamber of Commerce offers Explore Berkley gift certificates to thirty local businesses, which can be purchased at berkleychamber.com and through the Berkley Education Foundation, berkleyedfoundation.org. Businesses and organizations can also join the Chamber and have access to all of its benefits by registering online. For more information, call 248.414.9157.

Photos By Ashley Poirer & Rich Young

The Berkley Street Art Fest started in 2017 and focuses on creating art in the streets of Berkley with chalk and murals. Bridget Mahrle, chair of the Berkley Street Art Fest committee, has worked with a committee of community volunteers, businesses and Chamber staff for the past three years to create this festival that takes place on the second Saturday in July.

On the second Saturday in June, the Art Bash shuts down 12 Mile Road between Kipling and Buckingham Avenues and over 150 artists and makers sell their products. April McCrumb, co- owner of Catching Fireflies and Yellow Door Market, founded the festival with photographer and former Chamber member Maureen Monte.

“Maureen did it for a few years and was moving on with her business, so she left me in charge. I was a good fit for the job. I did art fairs for many years and had connections with artists,” McCrumb says. “I took it on and grew it to what it is today. We started the first year with 50-to-70 artists and now are at 150.”

The free event attracts over 10,000 people each year and invites a variety of artists to appeal to visitors’ every interest, everything from jewelers and authors to candlemakers.

“WE TRY TO SEEK OUT DIFFERENT TALENT. WE GO TO A LOT OF ART FAIRS and find things that are appealing in price and style,” McCrumb says. “Everyone can come and bring a few treasures home without breaking the bank.”

The entertainment extends past art lovers to include fun for pets and kids too.

“We always want Art Bash to be family-friendly. We are very intentional about bringing in
inflatables, face painting, kids crafts – anything kids would enjoy,” McCrumb says. “We are pet- friendly too – you can bring your dog and vendors sell dog treats, collars, cat treats and infused catnip.”

McCrumb runs the Berkley Art Bash alongside RoseAnn Nicolai, events and operations manager for Berkley Area Chamber of Commerce, who is also involved in the Berkley Street Art Fest. Artists interested in participating can apply for the 2020 Art Bash starting January 1st at berkleyartbash.com.

“I presented the concept after discovering the West Michigan Chalk Art event. I felt it would be a wonderful event to bring to Berkley’s Coolidge Shopping District to bring more awareness to the new and established businesses,” Mahrle says. “Our first year was held in a newly-developed parking area behind Sugar Kisses, Peggendott Designs and Berkley Eyewear stores.” Darlene Rothman, Executive Director of the Berkley Area Chamber of Commerce, visited other chalk festivals in Michigan to discover the best format for the Berkley community.

THE STREET ART FEST NOW DRAWS CROWDS OF OVER 6,000 and that success has led to the City shutting down Coolidge Hwy. from Catalpa to Wiltshire for the event. More than 30 chalk artists of varying levels of aptitude compete, and muralists create permanent pieces on walls throughout the Berkley Business District.

“To date, we have installed 18 permanent murals located throughout the City,” Mahrle says. “The Berkley Street Art Fest also has artists and other vendor booths, food trucks and family activities where attendees can create art.”

Vibe Credit Union, a major sponsor, presented the 2019 event. Atomic Dawg hosted the beer tent, a first for 2019, and flame-eating jugglers and other street entertainers performed. The event attracts world- famous artists including David Zinn, Ann Arbor-based 3D chalk artist, who has presented at each event since 2017.

“This year’s event was even more special because Berkley became one of six cities worldwide that has permanent artwork created by Zinn on local buildings; Balanced Health & Wellness and the Berkley Public Library,” Mahrle says.

For information about the 2020 event, visit www.berkleystreetartfest.com. Both the Street Art Fest and the Berkley Art Bash have helped to highlight the creative talents of Berkley residents and increase business for retailers and restaurants along two main intersections in the City.