‘Lansing Made 517 Day’ proves popular
By Shauna Stocken
A & E Editor
Less than an hour into the first-ever “Lansing Made 517 Day,” parking spots dwindled while kids, adults, vendors and live music filled the sidewalks in front of the Lansing City Market.
Lansing Made founder Melik Brown hosted the event on Thursday, May 17. The “517” in the title stands for the local telephone area code.
The event was a small idea for community involvement that quickly grew, bringing Lansing entrepreneurs, local organizations and businesses out to celebrate.
“This event was put on by an idea of celebrating the community for the community,” Brown said. “The idea popped in my head and I made a phone call to Paul Brogan (co-owner) of Rivertown Adventures, and we came up with an idea to do something small … Then about 20 phone calls later we realized it turned into something big.”
The event took place from 4 to 7 p.m. and included Lansing businesses such as Elderly Instruments, artists selling paintings, musicians and food trucks including “Got Some BBQ” and “Nolo’s Soul.” The East Lansing Roller Derby team was skating around the venue passing out flyers.
Brown said he has lived in the Lansing area for many years. He explained the importance of giving back to a city and community that has given so much to him.
“We want it to be a family affair,” he said. “We wanted to make sure that we had an opportunity for children to celebrate as well, because it’s very important that they have a sense of community and a sense of belonging.”
One of the many children to attend the event was 11-year-old Aviar Shuford, with his two sisters and a cousin.
“I liked things like the real-life superheroes and the ride they had where you ride around the city,” Shuford said. “It was just a nice time having fun with my family.”
Shuford said he grew up in Battle Creek, so the free ride from Joyride Pedal Tours gave him his first opportunity to glance at the Capitol building and to see the Lansing Lugnuts’ ballpark.
Other notable events that Shuford and his family enjoyed included eating donuts from Groovy Donuts in East Lansing, making buttons with the Lansing Library and visiting the WKAR and PBS TV booth.
“Were all about being whenever children, families and our community is,” said Robin Pizzo, director of education at WKAR and PBS. “(We want) to make sure we continue to support early literacy and early learning and kindergarten readiness, and all things educational, through WKAR and PBS.”
Pizzo shared stories of her passion for Lansing and helping the city’s youth as she passed out color-changing pencils, stickers and chive seeds to children.
Also passionate about the community is local resident and mom of two, Becky Womboldt.
“We love all the free events that go on, and it’s a beautiful day,” Womboldt said. “It’s a good way to spend our afternoon.”
Womboldt’s sons, ages 6 and 8, spent the evening making buttons with the Downtown Lansing Library, doing activities with Preuss Pets, breakdancing and enjoying the Ghostbusters’ car and impersonators.
“I think it’s a great way to bring the community together,” Womboldt said. “There are a lot of families that don’t have the money to pay for a lot of stuff, so this like a cool way for families to spend time together.”
According to Brown, many are already asking him about returning next May for a second “517 Day.”
“I don’t know what that looks like yet,” Brown said. “I keep telling people let’s get through the first one.”
To Brown, it’s imperative to find out if all entities involved, from the Lansing’s City Market to vendors and guest, had a positive experience this year, before making future plans.