Once upon a time, some Lake Orion residents decided to punch up the traditional Christmas parade by moving it to evening. It’s been a hit ever since.
This year, look for marching bands, horses, floats and costumed characters when the parade takes its traditional route from Blanche Sims Elementary School to Front and Broadway streets in downtown Lake Orion starting at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1. Leading off the event in a horse-drawn carriage will be Citizen of the Year Robert Hollenbeck, vice chairman of the Downtown Development Authority, a former village councilman and a lifelong resident.
Last year’s weather was downright comfortable, and this year’s forecast calls for a high in the lower 50s.
“If it’s truly 50 degrees, that’ll be great for us as long as it doesn’t rain,” said Janine Saputo, who with her husband Chuck organizes the parade staging area.
“We have six bands, more bands than ever,” she said. They include the Lake Orion High School marching band, the Detroit Public Schools 120-member all-city marching band, the Anthony Wayne Band from Ohio, the Lapeer East High School Band and the Scottish pipe band Cabar Feidh.
This year’s theme is Magic on Broadway. Expect costumed characters from the movies, including the Incredibles; fire trucks, a vintage cop car, horses and of course Santa. Santa will also meet and greet at historic Union Church after the parade.
Parade emcee will be DJ Rockin’ Ronnie. For the first time, Wi-Fi will assist organizers with keeping the announcer in synch with who is marching down the street. In past years, “We’re rushing around with sheets of paper and trying to put them in order,” Saputo said. “You don’t see the panic as they’re coming down the street.”
Saputo especially enjoys seeing what parade entrants can do with lights. Last year, a hot-air balloon burner was used for one entry (it’ll be back this year).
“It’ll be a beautiful parade,” she said. “This is the 18th annual lighted parade. They know how to do lights.”
Prizes will be awarded after judging by the three judges of 52-3 District Court: Lisa Asadoorian, Nancy Carniak and Julie Nicholson. “We thought to ask them one year and they loved it,” Saputo said.
The parade is sponsored by the nonprofit Orion Area Parade Group, which awards one LOHS graduating senior a $1,000 scholarship each year. The Mark Turpen Scholarship recognizes a young person who exudes optimism about the future, has the ambition to make change for the better and, above all, aspires to help others in need.
The night before the parade the parade group sponsors a fundraiser called Holly Jolly Folly. This year it’s Friday, Nov. 30 at 6:30 p.m. at Golling Buick GMC, 1491 South Lapeer Road. Tickets are $33 per person or $300 for 10 and are available at the dealership. Admission includes holiday music by the Lake Orion High School Choir, silent auction, food, beverage, beer and wine and cash bar.