Bring Back Devil’s Night!

Detroit Stories

October 30, the night before Halloween, is Mischief Night in most of the United States.  Toilet paper is wound among the branches of neighborhood trees, eggs are put into mailboxes and the occasional dung fire is lit on an unsuspecting neighbors porch just before the doorbell is rung.  Mischief Night is an occasionally annoying but generally wholesomely mischievous right of passage for the nation’s teenagers.  In Detroit, of course things are a little different.

The Detroit metro area has called October 30 Devil’s Night for decades.  Until the early 1980’s, Detroiters of all ages reveled in the same sort of minor vandalism the rest of the Republic swore at, winked at and then cleaned up.  Sometime during this era some brain surgeon got the great idea to stop setting dung fires and start setting abandoned buildings on fire.  The resulting arson’s got worse as the years went by culminating in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s with 500-800 arson’s a year.

Sometime after Detroit elected Dennis Archer mayor, he renamed October 30 Angel’s Night and the arson’s began to decline.  The national joke that was Detroit’s Devil’s Night slowly sunk into the popular culture as a remnant of a violent city’s past.

However, the number of abandoned began to rise as the city lost more and more residents.  In July of 2010, the city of Detroit destroyed over 10,000 structures left to the elements.

Thus, I pose this question to Detroit Mayor Dave Bing: why not bring back Devil’s Night as the beginning of an urban renewal project?  Just think of the jobs it will create for city residents on both ends of the fire.




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