DETROIT (WJBK) - The broken, the blighted, the beautiful.
Hundreds gathered at the iconic Michigan Central station for Crain's fourth annual Detroit homecoming. The affair brings ex-pats, Metro Detroit's best and brightest, from around the country back home to deepen their roots and re-invest in Detroit.
Wendy Hilliard is a US gymnastics Hall of Famer now living in New York. She opened a gymnastic foundation 20 years ago, which provides free and low-cost gymnastics.
“After I attended the first homecoming, it kind of inspired me to bring my foundation back to Detroit,” said Hilliard.
The hope is that more will do the same.
“I was that girl when I was 18 that I wanted to get out of here, I wanted to go and be in New York and LA, I just highly encourage anybody who's here in Detroit, keep your talents here. We need them,” said Amber Rose Powers, a former ex-pat.
Central station got the Cinderella dressed up for this year's homecoming, dressed up on the inside and out front, you could call the light show the makeup.
Mary Kramer from Crain's Detroit Business says the city's iconic landmark was a fitting pick.
“One of the reasons we wanted to do this here is this building has been a symbol of Detroit at its height and its glory days and then a symbol of its decline,” said Kramer.
Now the city, on some fronts, is on the rise again.
But protesters outside Central Station reminded those inside of where the city is still lagging… far too many Detroiters grapple with poverty, joblessness, and gentrification is a growing concern.
“It is so critical that Detroit, the government for sure, the real estate developers, are really conscious about this now otherwise it can spiral out of control,” said Sarah Endline, and ex-pat in Brooklyn.
Comedian and actress Lily Tomlin received the Detroit Homecoming award and the key to the city from Mayor Mike Duggan.