Detroiters have until July 31 to submit photos for citywide COVID-19 memorial

Posted at 7:08 PM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 17:25:07-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — To honor the thousands of lives lost to COVID-19 this year, the City of Detroit is creating a memorial along Belle Isle to be viewed during a two-day event.

Aug. 31 has been declared Detroit Memorial Day. In addition to those who lost their lives to the virus, the city will also honor frontline workers who continue to make a difference during the pandemic.

“We can’t have funerals , we can’t do memorials, we can’t do any of the things," Rochelle Riley, the city's director of Arts & Culture, said. "We can’t even take pound cake and potato salad to someone’s house.”

The "Spirit Drive" memorial is an installation of large photo boards of COVID-19 victims along Belle Isle. The photos will later be given to victims' families.

Family members will stay in the vehicle as they have a moment to honor their loved one.

“The entire route will be lined with volunteers who will have Kleenex and smiles and words of condolences," Riley said. "It will be like a funeral procession.”

The families who sent in photos will be given time slots to drive through the island. They will also be able to keep the photos after the event.

The city will be working with local restaurants to provide meals for the families to take home after the memorial drive.

Riley said this is just one step the city will be taking to honor those affected by the pandemic.

“There will be people who we will lose after that time and we are going to continue to collect the photographs so that we can honor those other victims at a later date.”

You can submit a photo of a loved one lost to COVID-19 in one of three ways by July 31:

By email at

By mail at:
Detroit Memorial 2020
P.O. Box 21761
Detroit, MI 48221
Cc: Rochelle Riley

Or online here: and

Events and additional details below:

At 7 a.m., mourners will report to the staging area on Jefferson Avenue by assigned drive times.

At 8:45 a.m., residents across southeast Michigan, from every neighborhood, every church, every business, every street, will be asked to ring bells for 15 minutes to honor the more than 1,000 souls we have lost to the pandemic.

At 9 a.m., the drive will begin around the island to offer families and friends where they will see huge posted photographs of their loved ones and can offer a final good-bye to those we have lost.

No cars will be allowed to stop or park. Instead, this year's Dream Cruise has been replaced by this Spirit Cruise, a moving celebration of love. At 4 p.m., the island will close, and all residents across the city will be encouraged to go home and watch spectacular Parade Company Fireworks on television.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.