Windows rolled down, my friend and I cruise into Dodge Park on a summery Thursday evening, eager to take in a free concert.
Right away we hear the music of Journey, played expertly by tribute band Captured Detroit. The sun is setting slowly, casting a golden glow over the parking lot as “Any Way You Want It” booms over the speakers. My friend is in a hurry to go claim our spot on the lawn, but first, something surprising catches our eyes.
They have food here.
We find ourselves enclosed in a circle of food trucks boasting pizza, hot dogs, tacos, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, and even pierogis. And clustered between the trucks are 25 or so vendors selling everything from children’s books to sweet potato pie. The scent is mouthwatering.
We weave through the farmers market and make our way to the concert lawn, which is peppered with hundreds of concertgoers. Children, perched on their parents’ shoulders, bob and sway in time to the music. Near the front of the stage, couples of all ages are dancing. I can’t help but smile when I spot an older couple teaching a few swing dancing moves to a pair of teenagers.
The audience’s energy is palpable throughout the night, especially when Captured Detroit finally rocks out to the song we’ve all been waiting for: “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
It’s a beautiful moment to end the night on—hundreds of strangers singing every word in perfect unison, as if we’d all been rehearsing our whole lives for this moment.
The concert ends, and the last scrap of sunset melts away. The instruments are packed away, replaced by an inflatable movie screen—the park is showing “Lego Batman” tonight. As we drive away, the only thing I can think is, This is what summer is meant to be. I wish every night could be like this.
Luckily for me, Dodge Park hosts these Music in the Park nights every Thursday, all summer long. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
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Jenna Russell is an intern at the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development. She is a senior at Oakland University.