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In This Newsletter

•   President's Corner 

•   First Draft of New Rouge Park Recreation Center Design Released

•  Join in the Fall Rouge Park Selfie Scavenger Hunt

•  September Recap: Buffalo Soldiers & Blues Freedom Festival, Honeysuckle Happy • •  Hours & National Public Lands Day

• Upcoming Programs & Events: 

President's Corner

Happy October! September has been a whirlwind of activity in Rouge Park as we continue to pursue our mission to protect, restore and promote a natural, environmentally healthy and culturally vibrant Rouge Park that engages the community for the benefit and enjoyment of all. You can read all about our activities as well as upcoming events below but I want to update you on how we are growing as an organization and how we need you.

Rouge Park would be nowhere near what it is today with its new playgrounds, picnic shelters, ballfields, signed nature trails, better maintenance and regular programming without 21 years of hard work by the Friends of Rouge Park (FORP) advocating for the park, organizing clean ups, developing a Master Plan, building nature trails, stewarding the natural areas and providing programming. It is amazing what we have been able to accomplish with an incredible hard working board of directors that works for free. These dedicated members care so much about Rouge Park and the community that they dedicate their own time to do this.

It is time for FORP to grow large enough to be able to hire full time staff so that the board can go back to guiding rather than managing the organization. In recent years, we have been slowly increasing funding for programming and park improvements, mainly through successful grant applications and partnerships. This fall, we will be working with a contractor to develop a staffing and fundraising plan. As we undergo this transition, we ask for 1. your support to keep improving Rouge Park, 2. your consideration in running for the board of directors and sharing your skills to help guide this organization, and 3. your continued time to volunteer to cleanup and restore the park and spread the word to your family, friends and co-workers about what a great place Rouge Park is to live next to and play in. 

-Sally Petrella, President

The Friends of Rouge Park Mission:

To protect, restore, and promote a natural, environmentally healthy, and culturally vibrant Rouge Park that engages the community for the benefit and enjoyment of all.

We can't do it without your support!


First Draft of New Rouge Park Recreation Center Design Released

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On September 25, the City of Detroit hosted a community meeting at the Brennan Poolhouse to release the first draft of the design for the new Rouge Park Recreation Center. Participants were treated to dinner and seated at tables for eight with a large copy of the proposed design. Each table had a representative who collected comments. 

The design included a space for a gymnasium, three multi-purpose rooms, a kitchen and a few other special purpose rooms. Under the current design, the building will be attached to the east side of the Brennan Pools building and ascend the hill to the northwest corner of the parking lot, requiring the destruction of twenty-five stately, one hundred year old oak trees planted as part of the original landscaping along the Brennan Pools in the 1920s shortly after Rouge Park was first established.  Several FORP board members seated together at one table were able to express our alarm directly to the architect of the design of the proposed loss of so many historic trees and discuss other options.


At the time of the publication of this newsletter, the proposed design has not been posted yet on the city's website but should be available soon here.

Join in the Fall Rouge Park Selfie Scavenger Hunt

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Explore Rouge Park, Win a gift basket!

Friends of Rouge Park is hosting a special scavenger hunt in partnership with D-Town Farms and you are invited to participate. To enter for a chance to win one of three gift baskets, simply visit the locations for the scavenger hunt (see above), complete the selfie assignment and post it to your Instagram, tagging @friendsofrougepark, or on our Facebook page, by October 29.

On October 30th, we will announce the winners of the following gift baskets:
  1. Scout Hollow S'mores kit: includes a set of Rouge Park mugs, artisan coffee, S'mores ingredients, two roasting skewers, and two cozy blankets.
  2. Prairie Bird & Butterfly basket: includes an owl stuffy, butterfly stickers and journal, butterfly socks in youth sizes, a hummingbird hand feeder, plus other youth oriented items.
  3. D-Town charcuterie kit: contains a fall-themed charcuterie platter, vinegar and oil dispensers, Harvest decor, and Rouge Park swag.

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Celebrating History and Community at Detroit Park Coalition's 2nd Annual Freedom & Arts Festival

On a sunny Saturday, September 16th, 2023, the Rouge Park community came alive with music, games, and a deep sense of history as Friends of Rouge Park, Detroit Parks Coalition, the Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Association and local residents gathered to honor the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers. This meaningful celebration was part of Detroit Park Coalition's 2nd annual Freedom and Arts Festival, drawing a crowd of about 300 people who enjoyed a day filled with music, entertainment, and community spirit. The festivities kicked off with the soulful blues melodies of Big Pete, setting the perfect backdrop for a day of remembrance and celebration. Attendees of all ages reveled in lawn games, free pony rides, and indulged their taste buds in delicious Filipino cuisine courtesy of Marichona's Kitchen. The rich aroma of food wafted through the park, uniting everyone in a culinary experience to remember.

The event was expertly hosted by the City of Detroit's Director of Arts and Culture, Rochelle Riley, who kept the crowd engaged throughout the day. The warm welcome came from Vice President of Friends of Rouge Park, Arthur Edge, and District 7 Councilman, Fred Durhal, who emphasized the importance of community gatherings like these in preserving the heritage and stories that make Detroit unique. However, the highlight of the day was undoubtedly the tribute to the Buffalo Soldiers. Their legacy was celebrated with a heartfelt presentation. To further support the Buffalo Soldiers' endeavors, they were presented with a much-needed check to fund the paving of a new driveway for their barn by Wayne County Commissioner Alisha Bell. This act of generosity symbolized the community's commitment to preserving history and supporting its local heroes.

The celebration wasn't just about history; it was also an opportunity to engage with the community and gather valuable feedback. A survey was conducted, offering participants a chance to win a $50 Meijer gift card and a coveted Friends of Rouge Park mug. This engagement highlighted the event's commitment to fostering connections and listening to the voices of those who care deeply about the park and its heritage and is part of Friends of Rouge Park's Kresge Grant to program the center of the park and collect feedback. As the sun dipped below the horizon and the festivities drew to a close, the sense of unity and community pride lingered in the air. The 2nd annual Freedom & Arts festival was a resounding success, not only in celebrating the Buffalo Soldiers but also in strengthening the bonds of the Rouge Park community. It served as a reminder that by coming together, we can preserve our history, celebrate our culture, and create a brighter future for all.

September's Volunteer Work Days

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September was the busiest month yet for our stewardship activities in Rouge Park led by Antonio Cosme (on left in above photo)!  Fighting invasive plants in the park can often feel overwhelming, like mopping up water at the beach. After four workdays we’ve just about finished clearing the Ma'iingan Wildwood trailhead area at Sorensen and Dave Oakley and Antonio re-opened the trail after strong storms blew a huge oak down onto it. We have one last work day at Sorensen on October 13th and on October 27, we will hold our first Buckthorn Bonfire workday at the Scout Hollow Nature Trail. Register for either event here.

We hosted the first Sugarbush themed workday where we served pancakes and had  17 volunteers clear a portion of the Ma'iingan Wildwood Trail and pick up trash. Join us on October 15 to continue this work with pancakes and Rouge Park grown syrup. Register here.

Finally, we began holding work days in the Rouge Park Prairie. Our first two events focused on rescuing an ancient native Hawthorn tree being strangled by buckthorn, bittersweet, porcelain berry and other non-native invasives. 

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Upcoming Events

Fish & Tree Walk - sponsored by FORP

Sun. Oct. 8, 2pm

Ma'iingan Wildwood Trail, Sorensen Recreation Area (map)

Join naturalist Robert Muller and lifelong student of woody plants Don Drife on a guided walk covering the fish and tree species found in Rouge Park while hiking the newly rededicated Ma'iingan Wildwood Trail.
Register here

Honeysuckle Happy Hour

Friday,. Oct. 13, 4:00pm-6:30pm!

Ma'iingan Wildwood Trail (map)  
Join us in removing invasive plants from the Ma'iingan Wildwood Trail.
We will take breaks to hike and learn the native and non-native plants and trees! We recommend wearing long sleeves, long pants and covered shoes or boots. We will provide bug spray, gloves, tools and adult beverages.

Register here

Detroit Aero Modelers Fun Fly

Sunday, Oct. 15 10am–1pm

Alex Jefferson Model Airplane Field (map)

Come watch and learn all about model aircraft flying by experienced members of the Detroit Aero Modelers Club.

Sugarbush Workday
​Sunday, October 15, 9am - 2pm
Meet on Outer Drive south of Tireman

Volunteer workday on the Ma'iingan Wildwood Trail after a pancake breakfast. Sponsored by the Detroit Sugarbush project.
Register here

Rouge Park All Terrain Bike Ramble 2023
Saturday, October 21, 10:00am - 2:00pm
Mountain Bike Trailhead
Come Discover biking in Rouge Park! New and experienced bikers alike are welcome to join us for an introduction to the Rouge Park mountain biking trail and other paved paths for biking in the park. While the mountain bike trail requires an intermediate level of biking skill, a limited number of bikes will be available for those interested in a relaxed ride at their own pace along the paved paths throughout Rouge Park. This free event is co-sponsored by Detroit Outdoors, Fjallraven, Wheelhouse Detroit, the Friends of Rouge Park & the City of Detroit.
Contact [email protected] for more info.

Register here

2nd Annual Righteous Son's Harvest Fest
Saturday, October 21,
On the corner of Joy Road and Spinoza. Family, fun event.
This event is to raise awareness for community members about organizations that may be of assistance to you! Come enjoy, free food, hot chocolate, bounce houses, and music!

Register here

Buckthorn Bonfire

Friday Oct. 27, 4:00-6:30pm 

Scout Hollow Nature Trail (map)

Join us in removing invasive plants from the Scout Hollow Nature Trail.
We will take breaks to hike and learn the native and non-native plants and trees! We recommend wearing long sleeves, long pants and covered shoes or boots. We will provide bug spray, gloves, tools and adult beverages.

register here

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