When life moves too fast, it is amusing, even soothing to just sit and watch other people enjoy their lives. Watching people just living provides great inspiration for poetry, art and literature. People spark our imaginations, encouraging us to adopt their rose-colored lenses, or to be grateful for where we are in life. Anthropologists are social scientists who people-watch for a living – it’s called “participant observation” when mingling among the folks to take note of social behavior. Finding a colorful and captivating crowd is as easy as going here:
Royal Oak Farmer’s Market
Hours: Fri – 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. May through Christmas; Sat – 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. all year; Sun – 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Royal Oak is one of the best places to people watch any time of the year, and in the summer, its sidewalk cafes are abuzz with activity. The most hopping spot is the Farmer’s Market, open weekends throughout the year. In spring, the market spills out into municipal parking lots to accommodate a carnival of plants. Sunday is the antique and collectibles day, when unique and glittery baubles add sparkle to the humble building. The market has been running for more than 80 years, and each weekend some 100 vendors are on hand to peddle their wares to treasure-seekers from all walks of life. Free parking is available near the market, and meters require no money on Sundays.
Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford
20900 Oakwood Blvd.
Dearborn, MI 48124
Price: $24.00 adults/$17.50 children 5 to 12 years old
Hours: April 15 to Oct. 30 daily – 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Reduced hours off-season
Greenfield Village is part of The Henry Ford Museum; it draws interesting people who have curiosities about history and Americana. A walk through its portals is like entering an 80-acre time machine and being transported back 100 years. The floral gardens in the summer are gorgeous. Every weekend brings special performances, including Civil War re-enactments and Revolutionary War pipers. Around Independence Day, a gigantic “Salute to America” draws thousands of guests who enjoy The Detroit Symphony playing on the great lawn — the evening is crowned by an extravagant fireworks display. There are plenty of benches for people-watching, and plenty of wandering, costumed interpreters for a fun chat.
Related: Greenfield Village Opens Its Gates
Contrary to popular belief, Hell is a place for people with a good sense of humor. Detroit bikers often take a spin to hang out in this unusually named town. Children flock here for free ice-cream when the Pinckney Library reads to the “Little Devils” — the ice cream toppings are self-serve from a real coffin imported from Transylvania. Temperatures in this town are often the tongue-in-cheek benchmark for the rest of metro Detroit, e.g. “Today, Comerica Park is colder than Hell.” Regardless of the time of year, expect to see visitors decked out in all manner of fashion trends in Hell.
Related: Hell Looking For Parade Of Hearses
The Windsor riverfront boasts decades of happening fun, and Detroit has joined the party with its own revitalization initiatives. A 5 1/2 mile stretch along the Detroit River is a great place not only for people-watching, but for showing off dogs in outrageous costumes. Expect any number of legendary artists, high-profile entertainers, street performers and their admirers at Chene Park’s 6,000-seat amphitheater on the shore of the Detroit River.
Frankenmuth is a village with less than 5,000 people, hosting more than 3 million tourists each year. Detroiters love to visit Frankenmuth for a Sunday drive, but something is happening every day of the week in this adorable German-themed Disneyville. In the winter, watch ice-sculpture competitions and fireworks; in the summer attend a polka festival; and in the fall drink it up at a lengthy Oktoberfest. Celebrate Christmas every day of the year at the massive 7-acre Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland complex. Seven tons of fried chicken are prepared annually for the visitors who enjoy the Bavarian style dinners. The streets are always filled with buskers, tourists, musicians and families in quaint dirndl and lederhosen.
Romero Anton Montalban-Anderssen is the winner of the 2009 first prize in journalism from the Detroit Working Writers Organization. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from Wayne State University School of Law. He has seasonal residency in Detroit Michigan, The Italian Riviera, and Honolulu Hawaii. His work can be found at Examiner.com.