First First Friday

Lansing has recently started a new project. Determined to entice the young, hip and East Lansing based into unknown territory, a group of wise folks have established Lansing’s First Friday. Lansing’s First Friday is a collaborative effort of over 75 businesses offering great deals on the first Friday of every month. The part that pulls it all together is the free trolley/busing system that offers free transportation between these businesses. I decided to participate in today’s First Friday. I pulled up the participating businesses and their offers and set a plan of action to walk to as many of these as I could. I started my walk at Re-Threads in East Lansing. Today they are offering 10% off all purchases. Re-Threads is a cute name for a cute store that re-sells clothing. As I walked in I was greeted by a friendly woman at the register. It wasn’t an over the top hello but nice enough. All the of the shirts were organized by color; a rainbow of organization any Type A personality would enjoy. My moment of joy quickly faded when I realized that, despite being all matched together by color, they were not organized by size. Within a few minutes of perusing the colorful clothing I also had another depressing realization; I was in a used clothing store in the middle of MSU campus. A campus full of slight, pre maternal young woman. Here’s an example of the clothing sizes; 0,2,4,6,8,10 12+. I realized I wasn’t going to find much at this store. After a quick walk through a wonderfully flowering campus I arrived at Harrison Roadhouse; my second destination. I entered and with great confidence I told the host that I needed a table for one. As a mother of 4 and married for over 19 years, I don’t think I have dined alone for 20 years. He looked back at me and offered me a spot at the bar. He mumbled that MSU graduation was today and they were expecting a lot of customers. Hmm, what was I? I told him I would prefer a table and told him I wouldn’t be staying long. Once at my little table, tucked along the side, I sat my camera down and pulled out my notebook. There is much power that comes with having a camera around your neck. I get looks. I get questions. But when you add in a notebook in a restaurant, I get good service! The young man politely took my order which included their First Friday special of a $3 Long Island Ice Tea. Despite having a little too much ice, it was quite good. I pulled out my camera to take a photo of it and that’s when I realized I forgot to put my battery back into my camera. I drew a picture, though.
After having my battery hand delivered (thanks Pat) I continued my walk into Lansing. I had previously walked all of Michigan Ave. into Lansing so I crossed over to Kalamazoo St. This is the same area that a large group of prostitutes, johns and I would assume pimps (do we even use those terms anymore?) were picked up in a big sting a week ago. I was determined to walk it though. I am happy to say that I made the whole journey without incident and was even passed by an old friend who yelled a quick hello as he drove by.
Once onto Washington Sq. I quickly made it to my final destination, Decker’s Coffee. I had been anxious to check out this famed place. On my walk with Mike McCallum he mentioned that he used Decker’s in one of his films. For First Friday they were offering $.95 ice cream cones all day. I went in and fell in love. The walls were brightly colored and covered with posters of all the wonderful and exciting things that continuously take place around Lansing. The one customer there addressed the server by name and felt comfortable discussing menu options. When it was my turn to order I told the two young woman behind the counter that I was doing a First Friday tour to which they replied; “Do you want an ice cream cone?” I smiled! Of course I do! I explained how I walked in from East Lansing and they both seemed genuinely interested in my travels. The server helping me then asked me which flavor ice cream I wanted and listed off a variety of flavors; not just vanilla. I was truly impressed by this time! I also ordered a coffee since I was a bit wet from the passing rain storm that ended in a flourish of hail. After they quickly put together my order I found a cozy table by the window and enjoyed my Michigan Black Bear ice cream with my small coffee with cream.

When I was about to leave I left my City Saunter card with the two woman. A few minutes later one of them, Jessica Decker, came around the corner. She knew who I was. She had learned about my project from Michael McCallum, who had described it to her when he went on one of my walks with me. It put a smile on my face.
When I finished I went outside. Washington Square is really a gorgeous area in Lansing. While looking at the buildings around me I noticed this absolutely amazing building across the street. I walked over and took some photos of the intricate design work. When I finished I looked up and in front of me was Michael McCallum walking quickly past. I laughed to myself because this was the third time in recent weeks that we’ve crossed paths. After a quick hug and some chit chat, I mentioned the building I had been looking at. He then tells me that it was the old theater and that it’s amazing inside. He suggests I should go inside and take some photos. When he continues his walk, I do just that. And he was right. It is amazing and it wasn’t even on the First Friday schedule!
Happy First Friday!

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