Winter Solstice Party radiates warmth on Cass

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– Photos by John Minnis

PHOTO #1: Wayne County Circuit Judge Carole Youngblood, left, is regular at attorney Roger Wolcott’s annual Winter Solstice Party at City Kitchen Restaurant & Bar in Grosse Pointe. With Youngblood are Wolcott and bartender Jen Guciardo.

PHOTO #2: City Kitchen owner Chick Taylor, right, generously opens his restaurant and offers half-off drinks to host Roger Wolcott’s annual Winter Solstice Party to raise funds for the Homeless Drop-In Center at Cass United Methodist Church. This year, Wolcott, center, along with friends like Ben Fischer, left, raised some $2,000 to help the center, with is greatly appreciated by homeless women and children this time of year.

Proceeds from event help homeless center at church

By John Minnis
Legal News

For attorney Roger Wolcott and his gang at the City Kitchen Restaurant & Bar in Grosse Pointe, Dec. 21, the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, is also the happiest day of the year. In fact, Wolcott and friends like the day so much that they party the night away.

Every year since 2010, the year his son died, Wolcott has been holding a Winter Solstice Party at City Kitchen, where proprietor Chick Taylor offers half-off drinks and Wolcott auctions off limited-edition Winter Solstice T-shirts featuring a radiating sun. Proceeds — about $2,000 this year — are donated to the Homeless Drop-in Center at Cass United Methodist Church in Detroit.

“I’ve been going to Cass United Methodist Church for several years,” Wolcott said. “We have a warming center there. Last year we sent about $500 to Cass to help the homeless. So this year I went for broke and ordered 30 T-shirts.”

The first T-shirt went for $200 “to get the thing going,” Wolcott said, with the remaining shirts drawing from $50 to $100.

Word went out via Taylor’s email list and word of mouth. Supporters and friends, including Wayne County Circuit Judge Carole Youngblood, a veteran Winter Solstice Party attendee, began trickling in at 5 p.m., and by closing time it was standing room only.

The solstice idea came about in June 2008 when a couple of Wolcott’s friends mentioned that June 21, the Summer Solstice, was the saddest day of the year since it meant days were getting shorter thereafter. To cheer them up, Wolcott had a few T-shirts made up and threw a party on June 22, the day of the Santa Barbara (Calif.) Summer Solstice Celebration.

Then in October 2010, Wolcott’s son, Michael, a senior at Michigan State University, died unexpectedly. He was only 22 years old. That year, Wolcott and friends organized the first Winter Solstice Party on Dec. 21.

“I figured that if Summer Solstice is the saddest day of the year, then Winter Solstice has to be the happiest day of the year,” Wolcott said, “since days are now getting longer.”
Since Dec. 21 also happens to be National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, it was a natural that funds raised be sent to the Homeless Drop-In Center at Cass United Methodist Church.

“We are really blessed in Grosse Pointe,” Wolcott said. “You give people a chance to do something, and they step up.”