Hidden gems found with ‘Be A Tourist’
By Shauna Stocken
Sidewalks, restaurants, boutiques, wineries, gardens and more were filled with greater Lansing residents on Saturday, June 2 during the 24th annual “Be A Tourist In Your Own Town” event.
Participants with passports in hand were able to visit 90 different attractions on foot, in strollers, by cars and/or on 50-cent CATA bus rides throughout the day.
“We live here, and there’s so much going on, but I don’t go to these places normally,” said Mina Woodard, mother of 3-year-old Skie. “I go to like the same five places all the time, so it’s good to know what’s out there.”
Woodard, her daughter and her mother spent the morning touring the Lansing Fire Station, as well as having Skie’s face painted with a unicorn design in the Lansing City Market.
“We’re looking forward to riding the bus to events,” Woodard said. “Next for us is the (Capital Area District) library.”
The Lansing Brewing Company offered guest with passports a $5 macaroni and cheese bar, as well as kids’ activities.
“We did pretty well with the kids’ day last year, so we decided to bring it on for this year,” said Monique Hudson, full-time manager at Lansing Brewing Company. “We did make our mac & cheese bar a little bigger … and this year we put it back in the Stock House, so it’s a little bit bigger with more open room for the kids to play around.”
Crucial factors as to why “Be A Tourist” is a success year after year are the $1 passports and the free events, explained Jay Lahash’Shakoor, the market supervisor for the Lansing City Market and a 2018 LCC graduate.
“Most of the time when people hear free they’re like, ‘Oh my goodness, thank you,’ because we think a lot of times that you can’t have fun without money, which is not always true,” Lahash’Shakoor said.
“I think the main thing is just making sure you bring in the right types of vendors. Put it this way; when kids are happy their parents are happy. So if you bring face paint, kids are always going to be happy.”
The Lansing City Market featured live music, crafts, a petting zoo and discounted kayak rentals, along with the business, Face Painting by Hilary.
Among the hundreds of families exploring the city was the Glew family of five from St. Johns. The oldest sibling, 11-year-old Jacob, was quick to share that his family came to Lansing to be tourists.
One of the family’s stops was to the campus of LCC, where tours of the radio and TV stations were available.
“This is my first time actually being on air in a radio station; to see behind the scenes, it’s very cool,” Jacob Glew said.
Jacob’s mom and dad, Heidi and Josh, said they hadn’t been to LCC’s campus in almost 20 years.
“The campus, it’s beautiful, like the (Shigematsu) garden,” Heidi said. “We do a lot of traveling through the summer where we visit different parts of the state, but there’s so much here in Lansing. Like, I’ve never been in a radio station. It’s pretty awesome that they open their doors.”
The tourists visiting LCC’s Radio Station 89.7 FM had the opportunity to talk on the air with Co-Host of The Coffee Break and HD1 Program Director Karen Love.
“Radio, specifically, it’s great to teach children that because it’s a great way to … broaden what they wouldn’t necessarily get to learn in school,” said Dustin Phifer, on-air staff production student employee for the LCC radio station.
The day of tourism extended past downtown Lansing. Old Town business Elderly Instruments also catered to adults and children throughout the day.
“We’ve been here in this location for a little over 35 years, and people sometimes don’t know where we are,” said Lillian Werbin, family employee of Elderly Instruments for the past four years.
“It’s nice to bring people out and get them kind of familiar with our area and show them our showroom and hope they come back,” Werbin said.
The day of touring hidden gems wrapped up around 5 p.m. for most participating attractions. The deadline to return passports pages and surveys for a chance to win one of many prizes is due no later than, Monday, July 9.
Prizes will be announced during the week of July 16. Visit www.lansing.org/batyot for a complete list.