4th of July, Allmendinger Park by Colin Blakely in Ann Arbor, MI

Ann Arbor throws a big 4th of July parade through downtown every year. However, the town festivities all end before sundown so fireworks are a DIY affair. We have three or four people on our block who literally begin stocking up months ahead of the event. On 4th of July evening, we get all the kids out after dark, bathe them in bug spray, and sit on the bleachers at the park while three or four dads put on an impressive display of fireworks.

Name:Colin Blakely

Professor/department head, art department, Eastern Michigan University.


Father and photographer. No time for much else. Also high on the list of things I love to do: tinkering with RC helicopters (or anything that flies really), downhill skiing, and whitewater kayaking.

Tell us about Ann Arbor:

I live on the 500 block of Keech Avenue, bordered on one side by Michigan Stadium and by Allmendinger Park on the other. Both entities play an important role in the identity of my neighborhood. We have literally thousands of visitors to our street each year. People come from all over the country to visit the stadium and participate in the American ritual of big 10 college football. People also come from all around town to visit the park. Visitors to both places inevitably end up passing through Keech Avenue.

I think of Ann Arbor as embodying traditional notions of Middle America. Here, the passing of time is defined as much by the rituals we collectively participate in as by the months on a calendar.

A perfect day?

There’s a different one for each season. In fall it includes a walk in the woods, in winter it includes sledding or building a snow penguin, in spring it involves walking downtown, and in summer it involves drinking beer on neighbors’ porches.

What is the best thing about your spot?

Football days.

What is the worst?

Football days.

What would be surprising about Ann Arbor to an outsider?

Bob Seger’s “Mainstreet” was inspired by Ann Arbor’s Main Street.

If Ann Arbor was a person or character who would it be?

A well educated, free spirited hippie who grows up and gets a job.

Who are three of your favorite artists?

James Turrell, Robert Smithson, Edward Burtynsky.



Name:Colin Blakely

City:Ann Arbor

Favorite place to eat:

Jolly Pumpkin

Favorite place to drink:

Bill’s Beer Garden

Favorite shop:

Bivouac on State Street

Local Tip:

For a quieter, but just as fun tailgating experience on football days, park in the neighborhoods west of the stadium

Must Do:

Walk inside Michigan Stadium. Take strolls down Main Street and State Street, eat lunch at Zingerman’s Deli. Have a beer outside at Dominick’s.