Archives: The First of Many New Year’s Celebrations
December 31, 1940 New Year’s Gala
This event would be the beginning of many sobriety celebrations.
The very first major event held in Detroit was a New Year’s celebration on December 31, 1940. It was held at Mike Eshleman’s home with about 20 members along with their spouse or guest, so roughly there were forty people in attendance.
For the 1941 celebration it was moved to the Fairview Gardens arena located at Mack Ave and Fairview Ave. This facility held boxing matches there from November 1, 1937 thru May 27, 1942, and then eventually this location would become a venue for Detroit “Big Time” wrestling and finally becoming a roller ring rink.
In 1944, they were still holding their New Year’s celebration at the Fairview Gardens, but they had gotten to the point of outgrowing it and would have to figure something out. In the same year the city began to hold no-alcoholic parties for young people at the Moose Lodge.
Through 1942 to 1945 the parties were smaller because of the ban on large gatherings, but we did party with our Vernors and Stroh’s Ice Cream. The gatherings continued to grow and we became shining examples on how people could celebrate without drinking.
In 1948, this celebration became so enormous that it could not be held at any one place, with so many parties going on. So this year it appears would be the last year. The celebration would be broken up into a half a dozen smaller affairs with the two largest being held in Highland Park and Farmington Hills.
The total amount was 2000 people, with largest holding 500 people. There were sober people attending with six months to ten years. The youngest attending was nineteen years old and that his first drink lasted two years. Mike Eshleman mentioned he was on skid row for fifteen years before coming into the program.
There were so many big events that went on in 1948, including Bill Wilson speaking here on January 17,1948, Dr. Bob Smith speaking on November 7th with 3000 in attendance at both events. The beginning of the Gratitude meeting for the members of the time began in 1949.
- References: Detroit Free Press; Detroit Times; Detroit News; Detroit Public Library.
- © 2013 by Bill T, Archivist, General Service of Southeastern Michigan, Area 33
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- Updated: 2020-10-04