Detroit Memorial Day Event Will Honor COVID-19 Victims

A Detroit staple for family and fellowship, Belle Isle will be transformed into the nation’s first citywide memorial to honor victims of Covid-19 on Detroit Memorial Day, August 31. 

“Detroiters care deeply for one another, and we felt it was important and necessary to provide an opportunity for members of this community to collectively celebrate the lives of those we’ve lost to this terrible virus,” said Mayor Duggan. “This is how we begin the healing process.”

Loved ones of nearly 900 Detroiters will participate in 14 consecutive funeral processions and drive alongside large blown-up photos of those who died due to complications from COVID-19. The images honor the nearly 1,500 Detroiters who died from COVID-19 between March and August 18. 

Music and short descriptions of each Detroiter memorialized at the event will be broadcast from WRCJ 90.9 FM; featured guests paying their respects include Mayor Duggan, City Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair, members of the Detroit Memorial Steering Committee and Rochelle Riley, the event’s coordinator. 

“If we couldn’t have the symphony come to the island, we can have the island play the symphony,” said Riley.

Each group participating in the Detroit Memorial Day event will gather at the staging area on Atwater Street across from the Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre. Assigned times will be given to each group and sent to the person who emailed in pictures of their loved one.

The Memorial Drive at Belle Isle will begin with a 15-minute bell ceremony at 8:45 a.m. The Memorial Drive will commence at 9 a.m. and lasts until 4 p.m. 

Belle Isle will be closed to the general public for the day. Detroiters can watch a special Detroit Memorial Day concert on the Detroit Arts and Entertainment Channel (Detroit A&E – Channel 22) and The Ford Fireworks on WDIV Local 4 following the event. There will be no in-person viewing of the fireworks this year.


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