Fireworks draw large crowds, few problems

By Steve Neavling

Downtown Detroit brimmed with energy and tens of thousands of people during the 54th annual Detroit Target Fireworks Monday night.

Despite fears of violence breaking out, police reported only a few brawls. And it’s no wonder. Police were everywhere – frisking teenagers, patrolling each street on foot and waiting in riot-ready buses.

One chaotic moment, however, underscored the general unease  following warnings from Police Chief Ralph Godbee last month that violence may break out. Across Jefferson from the Renaissance Center, more than 1,000 people scrambled when what appeared to be gun shots rang out.

Buses of police arrived within a minute of the panic. Turned out, the shots were firecrackers.

“Stuff like this happens, and I’m like, ‘What are you doing here?’” Theresa Snell, 28, of Mt. Clemens told me.

But moments later, after a dramatic fireworks finale, the native Detroiter was in good spirits, talking to a family she had met earlier. They made plans to go to a Tigers game and check out the waterfront – something she hadn’t done since moving out of the city five years ago.

“No matter how frustrated I get with Detroit, I still love it,” she said.

And it’s that stubborn loyalty that makes Detroit so special.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.