Banish boredom with these summer staycation ideas

Stay·ca·tion. Stā-ˈkā-shən. An informal noun, meaning: a vacation spent at home or nearby.

The word staycation was first added to the dictionary in 2010, as more and more people began to forgo expensive trips in favor of enjoying their own neighborhoods.

To this day, the staycation sensation is still gripping the nation, and it’s easy to see why. Forget the hassle of booking flights and hotel rooms months in advance. Staycations allow you to be more spontaneous, to seize the day and explore new activities you might never have tried otherwise.  They’re less expensive than traditional vacations, which means you can pack in more activities for a fraction of the price. And you get to support your local economy, while getting to know your hometown a little better than before.

Macomb County offers so many fun events that are perfect for staycations—here are four ideas to get you started!

  1. The Fashion Factory (Mount Clemens)

factory fashionHave you always wanted to learn to sew? Does your child dream of seeing their fashion designs come to life? The Fashion Factory is an experience designed for fashionistas of all ages, started by a local mother-daughter duo of super seamstresses. They offer camps, workshops and birthday parties where participants can create (and keep!) everything from infinity scarves to tote bags to dresses

  1. discovery cruisesSummer Discovery Cruises (Harrison Township)

Get out on the water this summer on a discovery cruise! You’ll explore the rich history of Lake St. Clair and its landmarks (including the South Channel lighthouses) while discovering the lake’s unique wildlife.


  1. music in parkMusic in the Park (Sterling Heights)

These outdoor concerts are perfect for the whole family! They feature free kids’ entertainment every week, including bounce houses, balloon artists, face painting, and movies after the concert!


  1. Fun at the local library (Eastpointe/Roseville)


Libraries aren’t just for books anymore! This summer, the Eastpointe Memorial Library will host several programs for all residents to enjoy, including a concert series, trivia contest, rock ‘n’ roll show and family movie afternoons. The Roseville Public Library will host Magic the Gathering nights, a scrapbook night, a Beauty and the Beast party, and a reading competition (with big prizes!)

For more ideas about what to do during your summer staycation, check out our comprehensive list of Macomb County’s spectacular events here!

Jenna Russell is a summer intern for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development. She is a senior at Oakland University.


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Sail into summer with North Star Junior Sailing!

Summer vacation. It’s every kid’s favorite time of year, and for good reason.

While the break from school provides some much-anticipated relaxation time for all youngsters, the season is also the perfect time to explore different hobbies, pick up new skills, and create long-lasting memories and friendships.

Where’s a great place to do all that in Macomb County? North Star Junior Sailing.

“Sailing is something everyone can do. When you think of a sailor, there’s no one picture that comes into your head. It really is an all-inclusive activity,” says Nickie Kowal, president emeritus and writer for the North Star Junior Sailing board of directors. “There are 8-year-old sailors, and there are 80-year-old sailors. How many sports can you say that about?”

Inclusivity is one of the biggest appeals of the junior sailing club, according to Kowal. “People think of sailing as an activity that’s only for the rich and famous, but that’s a misconception. Our participants come from families of all socioeconomic backgrounds.” North Star Junior Sailing offers scholarships and financial aid to make their programs available to all. North Star is a 501(c)(3) corporation—meaning all donations made to the program are tax-exempt. “Many people will donate boats, which really helps keep the course accessible to everyone,” notes Kowal.

North Star Junior Sailing, which has been running since 1989, sparks a lifelong passion for sailing in every participant. Though the program has plenty of new learners every year, returning sailors have a particularly fierce loyalty to the program and often come back again and again. “These connections that the kids make are lifelong. They keep coming back year after year because the memories and the bonds they make with each other are so strong,” Kowal remarks.

Kids don’t just learn the basics of how to sail, they also have the opportunity to join a race team and compete in races with other young sailors from all over Michigan. “Then they end up meeting other people that they never would have met otherwise, and forming friendships with them too,” says Kowal.

Kowal herself has been involved with the program for 12 years, as a secretary, president, and board member, while her own children were learning to sail. She says it’s not unusual for people to stay involved with the organization long after they’ve aged out of the junior sailing program. In fact, Ian Pouliot, the current president of the North Star board, is a graduate of the program.

Sailing is an ever-growing sport, with the growth rate skyrocketing among high school and college students in recent years. So what else makes sailing such a popular summertime activity? “Parents love it, because it gets kids outside and keeps them off their electronics,” Kowal laughs. “Not only that, it’s also an applied lesson in math, science, and physics. The kids learn all about vectors and velocity before they even come across it in a classroom setting. And of course when it comes time for them to take their boating safety test, given by the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office, everything is second nature to them.”

The significance of learning to sail is not lost on any of the program’s participants. Says Kowal, “We have this great natural resource here, being right on Lake St. Clair. Kids have to learn how to respect the water, appreciate it, navigate it, and be safe in it.”

The next two-week beginners’ course starts Monday, July 10. For more information about the program, click here.


Jenna Russell is a summer intern at the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development. She is a senior at Oakland University.

Posted in community, entertainment, family friendly, Fun, harrison township, Make Macomb Your Home, summer, Summer camp | Leave a comment

Plans underway for Macomb County’s bicentennial celebration

Next year, Macomb County celebrates its 200th birthday!

Macomb County has a rich history. Many know about our bath house era right here in Mount Clemens, but there is so much more to learn, explore and share. For example, did you know the city of Eastpointe was originally named the Township of Orange? The first female deputies were hired to the Macomb County Jail in 1921? Or Hall Road was named after early settler John Hall whose farm was located at Hall and Fairchild?

And these historical facts are just the tip of Macomb County’s memories (as we are quickly discovering through lots of research!).

In order to make sure our 200th birthday is celebrated, we have formed a bicentennial committee. The mission of this group, which is comprised of both internal and external community partners, is to celebrate everything Macomb since it was first formally organized in 1818.

In order to tackle this momentous task, we have formed several subcommittees in order to best celebrate this milestone. The birthday celebration subcommittee is in charge of planning and implementing our premier kickoff event: Macomb County’s 200th birthday celebration, slated to take place Jan. 9, 2018. The military subcommittee will work to celebrate military, veterans, police, fire and emergency medical services throughout the year. The securing recognition/legacy subcommittee researches and applies for historical proclamations, markers and plaques and investigates potential projects to leave as a legacy for future generations. The storytelling subcommittee gathers and shares historically significant stories that follow designated themes for each month of 2018. The timeline subcommittee collects important dates throughout Macomb County’s 200-year history to populate the timeline on And the torch relay subcommittee will oversee the bicentennial’s signature community event: a countywide torch relay involving every local community.

Bicentennial logoWe have created a logo which will act as a visual symbol of the bicentennial. It incorporates the county’s current logo while acknowledging 2018 as a special year in our history. This logo was created by our very own Matt Pierscinski in our Department of Planning & Economic Development. Thanks for capturing the committee’s vision, Matt!

Moreover, the committee has picked themes for each month next year:

  • January – Communities
  • February – Health
  • March – Historical Places/Architecture
  • April – People
  • May – Government/Public Safety/Military
  • June – Recreation
  • July – Transportation
  • August – Agriculture
  • September – Education
  • October – Manufacturing
  • November – Business
  • December – Media

These themes will help our subcommittees, as well as others participating in bicentennial celebrations throughout the year, to hone their activities to complement these ideas. If you have a historical story to share that relates to any of these themes, soon you will be able to submit it on the website.

All of the above and more is available on our website, developed by our IT Department. They also created the hashtag #Macomb200 and are working on the bicentennial celebration’s official social media frame. Thanks to our talented IT Department, especially Mike Liskey, for leading this effort.

We want to make our 200th birthday celebration a truly memorable experience for every resident of our 27 cities, villages and townships.

As you can see, planning Macomb County’s 200th birthday is a special opportunity to share information about our history, celebrate our present and embrace our future! If you are interested in becoming involved, email me at

Pam Lavers is the Macomb County deputy executive and serves as chair of the bicentennial committee.

Posted in Bicentennial, community, government, macomb county, OneMacomb | 1 Comment

Democracy and hamburgers: more alike than you think

FlagWhen I was a kid, celebrating the Fourth of July was simple.

In the morning, my family would drive to our cabin and spend hours grilling hamburgers while blasting country music on our ancient stereo. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins would arrive throughout the day, bringing along the other necessities: apple pies, s’mores supplies and sparklers. Then we’d all bedeck ourselves in ridiculously patriotic accessories. My favorite was a clunky plastic necklace that lit up, alternating flashes of red, white and blue.

At night, we’d head down to the beach and start a bonfire in the sand. Neighbors to our left and right would set off fireworks over the water. The folks on the other side of the lake would answer back with their own pyrotechnics, until it became a contest to see whose fireworks were louder, bigger, brighter.

FireworksBut that’s all the Fourth ever was for me: a fireworks competition. I was young. I didn’t understand what it really meant to celebrate the country’s independence.

That is, until the 2016 presidential election.

Now, by no means was the 2016 election the craziest one we’ve ever had. (The election of 1800, for instance, ultimately caused a literal gunfight between the vice president and his rival.) Nonetheless, last year’s election was exhausting, no matter which side you were on.

For months on end, it seemed that every TV sitcom was interrupted by a campaign advertisement; every family dinner or night out with friends was punctuated by a political argument. Tensions ran high. Many people, myself included, feared the country wouldn’t survive.

But we did. Against all odds, the country is still here.

And every morning, we all get up and interact with people who are different from us in some way. Despite our disagreements, every single one of us has one thing in common: we care. We all want to do right by our country, and make it a better place for future generations. That’s why elections are so dramatic—we all just have different ideas about how to bring about that bright future.

Yes, elections can certainly be tiring. I learned that last year. But I also learned that having the right to vote for the leader of the country is a great gift. That’s what our founding fathers fought for. And that’s what they won, when they declared our independence on July 4th, 1776.

Like a delicious hamburger, our democracy is multilayered, complicated, and a little messy. But we’re Americans. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

Jenna Russell is a summer intern at the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development. She is a senior at Oakland University.

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Get away at On the Bay Customs

On the Bay Customs feels like a boutique you’d find on a boardwalk in Florida. It’s full of hand-carved anchors, souvenir mugs and nautical T-shirts. But instead of “Sunshine State,” you’ll find “New Baltimore” stamped all over these items.


Owner Cher Bell opened the shop last year. While searching for a home on the water, she fell in love with New Baltimore. After owning a successful string of businesses, including floral design and a motorcycle shop, Bell decided to open On the Bay Customs on Washington Street in the city’s downtown. She said she is excited to be part of New Baltimore’s evolution into a tourist destination.

“I truly believe this could be the next Traverse City,” said Bell. With outdoor seating, a walkable downtown and Lake St. Clair on the horizon, the area certainly has a tourist vibe – just like her shop.

nautical room

From nautical home décor and garden trinkets to clothing, jewelry and purses, On the Bay Customs carries a diverse selection of merchandise. They offer lots of products to flaunt your hometown pride including Pure Michigan cups, Great Lakes baseball hats and New Baltimore tote bags. There is a T-shirt print room where Bell’s custom graphic designs can be printed onto a shirt of your choosing right while you shop.

Many items they carry are made by local artists, such as carved ship wheels, stenciled stools, hand-painted signs, tables, bookshelves and hand-drawn cards. These artists are in their 80s and 90s, and Bell says she is happy to give them a creative outlet.

Continually offering new products, the shop recently opened a café to sell cold drinks and desserts to beachgoers headed to Walter and Mary Burke Park. The café’s treats can also be enjoyed in the shop’s new courtyard, which made its debut during the Bay-Rama Fishfly Festival.

mike 1I asked Bell why she thought On the Bay Customs was doing so well in their first year.

“The key to success is to make it a party,” said Bell.

To join in on the party, visit On the Bay Customs at 51034 Washington Street in New Baltimore. Their summer hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Visit their website at for more information.

Caitlin Gerds-Habermas works for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development, often providing content for the Make Macomb Your Home website.

Posted in arts, business, community, entertainment, family friendly, macomb county, Make Macomb Your Home, New Baltimore, outdoor, Shop Local, small business | Leave a comment

Resources for caregivers at upcoming Senior Fun Festival

According to the U.S. Census, an estimated 12 percent of Macomb County’s population is above the age of 65. While the “golden years” can be a wonderful time for retirees who are able to travel, spend quality time with grandchildren or pursue lifelong hobbies and interests, the aging process can also bring on new health and wellness challenges.

Seniors Dancing

Macomb Community Action’s Office of Senior Services provides resources to help navigate the change.

They also recognize that the aging process has an impact on the next generation, especially when health and well-being challenges set in.

That is why the 28th annual Senior Fun Festival set for Friday, June 30 has been designed to benefit older adults and those who serve in the role of caring for them.

The festival will feature more than 100 local businesses and organizations that provide support and services to older adults and their caregivers, including a variety of home care businesses, health care systems and local nonprofits. Confirmed exhibitors include Father Murray Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Michigan Complete Health, Wellbridge of Romeo, and Wilfinger Health and Life, just to name a few.


Free, on-site health screenings for seniors and their caregivers will also be available including glucose testing, blood pressure readings and balance checks. They can also use this as a respite opportunity to play bingo, take an instructor-led painting class or visit the Detroit Institute of Arts Away exhibit – all good for relaxing and relieving a little stress.

There will also be a variety of fitness demonstrations throughout the day. Some of the featured activities include: chair yoga, Zumba Gold, Association of Chinese-Americans Line Dancers and Arthur Murray Dance Studio demonstrations.

The Senior Fun Festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 30 at the Gibraltar Trade Center, 237 N. River Road in Mount Clemens. There is no cost to attend and parking is free. For more information, visit or contact the Macomb Community Action’s Office of Senior Services at (586) 469-5228.

Roneeka Pleasant-Brown is the public relations manager for Macomb Community Action.

Posted in arts, community, education, events, macomb county, Mount Clemens, Senior citizens, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Calling all hopeless romantics, reality TV-lovers and eligible singles!

This June, get ready to experience love, travel, adventure … and maybe just a little bit of drama.

The Bachelor and The Bachelorette—two reality TV shows where 25 strangers compete to win the affections of one contestant—are holding open casting calls in downtown Mount Clemens! If you consider yourself spontaneous, romantic and unafraid of the spotlight, head over to the Emerald Theatre (31 N. Walnut Street) from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. June 22. You never know: If you make it on the show, you just might meet your soulmate – or at least score a free excursion to Paris or Rome.

If you’re thinking of trying out, here are some of the most common tips from former contestants:

  • The producers want to get to know the real you, so be yourself! Don’t try to adopt a fake persona; they’ll see right through it.
  • Dress like you would for a date. There will probably be a short on-camera interview, so you want to look your best, in case that clip gets shown on TV! And please, please, do not be one of those people who wears a mascot suit or a ridiculous costume to your audition. See tip #1.
  • Be ready to talk about yourself. A lot. The producers will likely ask you to fill out a questionnaire with questions ranging from “Do you have any pets?” to “Are you genuinely looking to get married and why?” It never hurts to be prepared!
  • Have fun! If nothing else, this will make a great story to tell your family and friends later on. Just relax, and have a good time.

And for those who would rather watch the romance and intrigue than play a part in it, season 13 of The Bachelorette began just a few weeks ago. The show airs Monday nights at 8 p.m. on ABC.


Jenna Russell is a summer intern at the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development. She is a senior at Oakland University.

Posted in community, entertainment, events, Mount Clemens | Leave a comment