We Will Still Give Thanks: Detroit Celebrates Thanksgiving 2020 Amid COVID-19 Crisis

We are not done.


Even with COVID-19 still raging in the community, nation, and world — we’re more than conquerors, we’re Detroiters, and resiliency is a part of our core values.


It’s been a journey since the pandemic, with about six weeks left in the year; there is quite a lot to be grateful for in 2020, though it has been cumbersome for us all. Many are mourning lost loved ones; others are still trying to make it financially because their jobs and businesses have been impacted. Others are continuing to balance it all with little to no reprieve because work and responsibilities don’t stop. But we don’t stop either.


What sets us apart as Detroiters is this is not our first time we’ve seen hard times. This won’t be our last either. But the spirit of Detroit is within us, carrying us through. From the fist of Joe Louis downtown to 7 mile Detroit, we come together and band together. And even though this year will not be a traditional Thanksgiving, we still, once again, have a lot for which to be thankful. And we can show our thanks this year safely by supporting local businesses and activities this festive season. Don’t forget to also show your love by supporting Black-owned businesses, too.


Denetia Lyons, owner and founder of Petite Sweets Detroit said that it is important to shop small and Black as a Black business owner, especially around the holidays and during these trying times.


“Our small businesses are hurting,” she said. “Being able to support the small businesses, buying local — all of that helps. … find it locally and black-owned.”


Lyons added that her Thanksgiving celebration [featuring her famous mini sweets] would be just with her husband, two step-daughters, along with her siblings and parents. Her aunt and husband’s English relatives will celebrate virtually through Facetime. This year she is grateful for family and support to keep going.


“I have a lot of gratitude and I am thankful for the support I’ve received during the pandemic,” Lyons said of her family, network, and customers who’ve shopped at her business: http://www.petitesweetsdetroit.com/. “The list just goes on. … I am very thankful.”


The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA) also recently launching a Thanksgiving To-Go: A Takeout Tradition to support Michigan’s hospitality industry by encouraging the public to support restaurants and get takeout as a new Thanksgiving tradition due to new COVID-19 restrictions.


“The holiday season is usually the busiest time of the year for the hospitality industry, and Thanksgiving plays a big role,” said Justin Winslow, president & CEO of the MRLA, in a press release. “This year, dining rooms and banquet halls remain empty—a sad site for employees who look forward to serving guests and count on their paychecks, and for operators who depend upon revenue from holiday dining to sustain their businesses after the new year.”


Restaurants and hotels around the state have created special Thanksgiving To-Go menus for groups of two or more, ranging from prepared meals and meal kits to build-your-own-meal options.


“We implore everyone to show gratitude for their favorite restaurants this holiday season by getting Thanksgiving to-go. Ordering takeout could make the difference between a restaurant keeping their doors open or closing their doors permanently,” added Winslow in the press release.


The public can view Thanksgiving To-Go: A Takeout Tradition options around the state at mrla.org/thanksgivingtogo.

Chef Max and Chef Taz

For those in need of holiday meals this season, Detroit-based Chef Max Hardy and Chef Taz are joining forces with Crossroads of Michigan to host a Black Friday distribution of holiday meals to food-insecure families in the Detroit community. The distribution is drive-thru only.


Recipients should expect to receive holiday meal fixtures, including roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, brussels sprouts, and peach cobbler. Attendees must arrive in a vehicle with masks.

The donation is from noon-3 p.m. November 27 at Crossroads of Michigan, 2424 W. Grand Blvd. in Detroit.


On the same day, shoppers at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets and Twelve Oaks Mall will be able to meet with a Black Santa for the first time at either location this year until December 24.

The newly reimagined Santa’s Flight Academy will allow guests to enjoy a socially-distanced visit with Santa, according to a press release. A pre-paid photo package reservation is required and can be found for Great Lakes at https://greatlakescrossingoutlets.com/pages/sfa#reserve. Santa will wear a mask at all times, including during photos.

Reservations at Twelve Oaks can be found at https://shoptwelveoaks.com/pages/sfa#reserve


After those festivities, head over to The Rink at Campus Martius Park, 800 Woodward Ave., now through March 7, 2021. Visitors can purchase tickets online at https://detroit.santaticket.com/ to reserve their spot at The Rink in advance.

Walk-up ticket sales are available but limited. Admission for the 2020-2021 season is $11 for adults, $9 for children 12 and under; seniors 59 and older; and $8 for military and first responders. Skate rental is $5. Masks, physical distancing, and a reduced capacity of 25% are required to skate.


For a complete list of safety standards, book a skating session online, visit downtowndetroitparks.com or call The Rink at Campus Martius Park at 313-963-9393.


The Wayne County Department of Health, Human & Veterans Services created a guide for gathering safe, suitable, and what to avoid this Thanksgiving.


What is safe and low risk of COVID-19 transmission is:

  • Having a small dinner with your household.
  • Delivering no-contact meals to family and neighbors.
  • Having a virtual dinner.


What is suitable with a moderate risk of COVID-19 transmission is:

  • Having a small outdoor dinner with local family and friends.
  • Visiting a pumpkin patch or apple orchard where people social distance and wear masks.
  • Attending a small outdoor sporting event with safety precautions.


What to avoid is:

  • Going shopping in crowded spaces.
  • Attending crowded parades.
  • Using alcohol/drugs; attending large indoor gatherings with people outside your household.


For more information, call 734-287-7870 or visit www.waynecounty.com/COVID19.


It’s been a tough year, but please remember supporting your local Black-owned businesses and showing your thanks this year as you give love to your family and friends.


Because at the end of the day, this season is not about the turkey, but being able to be thankful and having loved ones around you [in the flesh or virtually]. That is behind the spirit of Detroit and what we are all about.


And let’s not forget we made history with President-elect Joe Biden and our first Black woman and Asian-American Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Happy Thanksgiving. Please pass the pie.

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