Left: Sign on Dexte-Pinckney Road marking the path to Hell; all photos by historymike
(Hell, MI) As this is the sixth day of the sixth month in the sixth year of the century, the community of Hell decided today would be a good day to throw a party.
After all, the numbers 6-6-6 do not often come up on a calendar, and Hell is billing this as a once-in-a-lifetime event. By the time I arrived - shortly after 11:00 am - there were at least a thousand visitors, and cars stretched a half-mile away from dowtown Hell.
A side note - advocates of intelligent design will be pleased to see that the best route to Hell is via Darwin Road.
I spoke briefly with Hell's unofficial mayor John Colone this afternoon about the attention his village is receiving today.
Left: Hell's mayor John Colone, also known as "Odum Plenty"
"I have been amazed at the number of calls we have received," he said, shaking his head. "I have talked with reporters in Israel, Australia, Johannesburg, Brazil, Japan, Taiwan, and probably every state in the union. Just today."
Colone said that the merchandising of Hell and 6-6-6 has generated unexpected returns.
"Normally we get orders for 3 or 4 items a day on our website," he said. "I got a call from our webmaster and he said that we have over 2,000 orders just yesterday. I haven't even looked at today's numbers."
Left: Visitors sporting deluxe, special edition Hell 666 T-shirts
Colone said that, while the unincorporated community has always been a favorite destination for bikers, Hell has a wider appeal.
"We really want the place to be seen as a family destination," he said. "We like to bill ourselves as the place where you can celebrate Halloween 365 days a year."
"Downtown" might be an overstatement for Hell's business district, which mainly consists of the Hell Country Store, the Dam Site Inn, and the Screams ice cream shop. There was a line at least 100 deep of people looking to purchase one of the numerous souvenirs offered by the merchants of Hell.
"I think that we have sold over 1,000 shirts today," said Colone, glancing at the line of customers. "What started out as a little extra fun has turned into a huge event in Hell."
I counted eleven media vehicles parked in the vicinity, and saw reporters from Michigan, Indiana and Ohio working the crowd. We also chatted with a reporter from Channel A in Windsor who was covering the segment.
This, mind you, was before noon. Much of the festivities will revolve around afternoon and evening events, which include live music, karaoke, and a special children's area.
Hell, in case anyone was wondering, has wireless Internet access, and I could choose from three unsecured signals. Should you ever wind up in Hell, this might prove usefuul.
One local resident seemed unimpressed with the crowds.
"Just another day in Hell," he said.