“Some people might think it’s just free movies—not a big deal. But it’s the small things like this that help the progress of Detroit. It’s reaching out to the community and providing them with things to do.”

Detroiters of all ages can come out and socialize at Midtown Detroit Inc.’s free movie Fridays at New Center Park.

MDI is responsible for Noel Night, a 44-year-old celebration in Midtown, which takes place in December and offers a variety of entertainment, performances, shopping and activities.

“It’s important to promote the New Center district and provide an amenity to the public. Anything we do, we try to keep free to the public,” said Annmarie Borucki, the special projects manager at MDI.

The Friday festivities run until the end of August. Every Friday, there will be free movies, performances and more, all open to the public in New Center Park.

Borucki, who oversees the events at New Center Park, said the summer-long event is also meant to utilize the space at the park, which stays open until Oct. 15. The park offers more than entertainment, including a licensed bar and grill, which even caters to vegan preferences.

Sebastian Peters, a resident of Detroit for three years, said initiatives like this are one of the many reasons he decided to move to Detroit.

“Some people might think it’s just free movies—not a big deal,” Peters said. “But it’s the small things like this that help the progress of Detroit. It’s reaching out to the community and providing them with things to do.”

The program is meant to be an accommodation to metro Detroiters, said Borucki, who hopes to see more people come out and take advantage of the weekly event.

“We are trying to provide a diverse array of films to a diverse audience,” she said. “By providing free movies we are providing for people who can’t necessarily afford to pay for some of these movies.”

MDI holds fundraisers to support the annual event, and much of the events funding comes from philanthropists and big donor entities, such as the Detroit Pistons and Miller Lite.

According to MDI’s website, the nonprofit organization is involved with 30 other initiatives dedicated to Midtown and revitalizing the community with real estate, community development and more. 

“Growing up in Detroit, there were no public programs like this where people can show up to a park, eat, socialize and watch a movie or performance,” said lifelong Detroit resident Marquise Saxton.

“Detroit is unique for its food and entertainment,” Saxton said. “The culture here is unlike any other city, and amenities help showcase what the ‘D’ represents.”

There are no future plans to expand the free movie Fridays, but the MDI has many other public outreach events, said Borucki.

MDI’s next big event comes a month after the last showing at New Center Park. The organization is returning DLECTRICITY, which was last held in 2014. The electric festival will host more than 40 world-renowned artists throughout Midtown, with a show of light celebrations, food and festivities.

“Ironically, before I moved here from Wisconsin, all my friends told me there’s nothing to do,” Peter said. “Little do they know.”

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