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Avoiding the stores, and opting for the outdoors this Black Friday in Michigan

Dequindre Cut
David Kenyon/MI Dept. of Natural Resources
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Courtesy Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Paved trails of Milliken State Park

A friendly stroll through pheasant territory along a paved path in the shadow of the Detroit skyline. A short loop through wetlands, imagining the path of a water drop at Columbus County Park in St. Clair County. A 3.2 mile hike through the hardwoods of Cascade Peace Park in Kent County. These are a few of the organized events planned Friday in Michigan as part of the “OptOutside” movement. Originally launched by the retailer REI, which traditionally closes during the Black Friday sales frenzy, the movement encourages people to avoid stores and opt instead for the outdoors.

“This warming that we’ve had means that it’s the perfect day to go out, feel the sunshine on your face, get a little bit of exercise and remember why we like to be outside,” said Linda Walter, director of the Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit. “Because there’s lots to like in Michigan.”

“This warming that we’ve had means that it’s the perfect day to go out, feel the sunshine on your face, get a little bit of exercise and remember why we like to be outside."
Linda Walter, director of the Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit

The Outdoor Adventure Center will host two hikes on Friday, one along the Detroit River, and one along the Dequindre Cut.

“And you’ll be under the skyline of Detroit,” Walter says. “But also right on the river. And we have beautiful wildlife. We have a wetlands. It’s a really incredible experience.”

The Center is also collecting donated toys and offering photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. For those around the Thumb area, the Friends of the St. Clair River is hosting three separate hikes at Columbus County Park on Friday.

“We just get out, get some fresh air, go for a brisk walk,” said Melissa Kivrel, education manager for Friends of the St. Clair River. “Which is really helpful and offers a lot of health benefits, you know, considering we just had a great big feast the day before.”

Kivrel said the hikes the day after Thanksgiving have become an annual tradition for her organization

“It’s actually been steadily growing,” she said. “Last year, we had close to 75 people attend our event. We’re hoping to have the same this year, possibly more. But I think really it’s becoming a new tradition for a lot of families.”

Hikes are also planned for Island Lake Recreation Area in Livingston County and at Cascade Peace Park in Kent County.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Radio’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Radio since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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