Sterling Heights is usually a bustling hub of city-wide events during the spring and summer season, but this year, as vaccines roll out and residents navigate the new normal, will be a little different. The city announced on Tuesday a series of COVID-19 adapted events and amenities for the remainder of 2021, including an Oktoberfest to replace the traditional SterlingFest.
Labeled “Break-Free Blast,” these events and activities are designed for all ages and will be conducted based on current public health guidelines at the time they occur.
“Although there are still protocols we’ll need to continue following to keep our community safe, the magnitude of vaccinations being administered every day in our community, coupled with the warming weather, is giving us hope for getting back to fun gatherings and activities very soon,” says Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor.
“I’m incredibly proud of the way our community has come together over the past year. It really is something worth celebrating, and this is one way of giving our residents something they can look forward to — a bit of an escape from the last 12 months of closures, cancellations and isolation.”
The series of Break-Free Blast events include:
Memorial Day – May 31 at 9 a.m.
Sterling Heights will pay tribute to local veterans with a brief ceremony in front of city hall, including remarks from Sterling Heights elected officials and a special unveiling of the newly renovated City Hall Memorial Garden. Following the ceremony, there will be a special multi-vehicle Memorial Day “cruise” in honor of local heroes along an expanded route. Additional details will be released in early May.
Cultural Exchange – June 18 at 6 p.m.
Sterling Heights will celebrate the various cultures that make up the fabric of the community. This year’s event will be held under the Dodge Park Farmers Market and will feature several cultural performances from local groups, ethnic cuisine from a variety of food trucks and special displays featuring the history and traditions of various cultures.
Summer Thursdays – May 27 to September 30
From 3 - 8 p.m., the Dodge Park Farmers Market will offer fresh local produce, food trucks and more. Beginning at 5 p.m., Patios ‘n’ Pints across the street offers local craft brews in a fun, casual atmosphere next to the Upton House Museum. Breweries will rotate each week, and additional beverages will also be available. At 7 p.m., Music in the Park will bring live, local music from multiple genres and eras to the Dodge Park Amphitheatre.
National Night Out – Aug. 3 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Residents have an opportunity to share the evening with local police officers, getting to know them. This event held in various communities across the nation is designed to strengthen relationships between police and their community. National Night Out includes games, prizes, a chance to learn more about local public safety organizations and more.
Oktoberfest (replacing SterlingFest) – Oct. 8 and 9
Due to lingering capacity limits for public gatherings, this year’s Sterlingfest will become Oktoberfest. Dodge Park will feature two national acts on the amphitheatre stage – Plain White T’s on Oct. 8 and Lou Gramm The Original Voice of Foreigner / Asia Featuring John Payne on Oct. 9. In addition, six local favorite musical acts are scheduled for the Beer Pavilion over those two days, and a variety of food trucks will also be on hand just outside the pavilion.
Sterling Frights – Oct. 23
Sterling Heights celebrates the spirit of Halloween with Sterling Frights. The event will include music, games, attractions, food and plenty of photo opportunities – all designed around public health guidelines.
A Sterling Christmas – Dec. 4
The event includes the city’s annual tree lighting highlighted by Santa’s arrival. There will be several activities for all ages to ring in the holidays.
In addition to scheduled signature events, Break-Free Blast includes multiple seasonal amenities offering outdoor activities. The Sterling Heights Splash Pad is scheduled to be open Memorial Day through Labor Day. Residents and visitors can canoe or kayak the Clinton River from April to October. The Sterling Heights ice rink is open early December to early March, and the skate park and connected public trail system, including respite locations and bike repair stations, are open all year long.
“Break-Free Blast is a way to capture the hope and anticipation of getting back outside and returning to a bit of normalcy,” said Community Relations Director Melanie Davis.
“We are excited to share these signature events and activities with our community, and we hope they offer our residents a bit of a light at the end of what has been a very long tunnel.”