LO Challenge is canceled

By Jim Newell

Review Editor

The event that was the catalyst for the creation of the Village of Lake Orion Events Committee has been canceled.

Aaron Palaian, owner of Onurmark Productions, the race company behind the Lake Orion Challenge, had proposed to hold the triathlon in downtown Lake Orion on Oct 5.

The cancelation was announced via a statement on the Lake Orion Challenge website and on social media last week.

“We are deeply saddened to announce the cancelation of this event. As most of you know we worked for a long time getting all the approvals and permissions we needed to have the event. Despite our greatest appreciation for those of you that signed up and supported us, local community support fell much too short for us to put on the event,” according to the statement on lakeorionchallenge.com.

Anyone who signed up for the Lake Orion Challenge will receive a full refund, the cancelation notice stated. The notice also says that the proposed Turkey Trot race planned for November is canceled as well.

The Lake Orion Challenge had faced opposition from 40 downtown businesses and eight residents who signed a petition asking the council not to approve the event’s permit.

The Lake Orion Challenge triathlon would have had kayaking, canoeing or paddle boarding on Lake Orion at Green’s Park, and bicycling and running on village streets and the Paint Creek Trail.

The village council voted on June 10 to approve the permit for the event, but not before postponing the vote from a meeting two weeks earlier after business owners took their concerns over street and parking lot closures to the council.

Palaian adapted his plans so that the event would not close any village streets and only one private parking lot.

Most business owners – including those who signed the petition – said they did not specifically oppose event that bring people to the downtown business district, just that street and parking lot closures greatly affect their bottom line.

DDA Executive Director Molly LaLone is on the nine-member events committee, which voted unanimously in July to recommend that all new events are to be reviewed by the committee.

“I have a lot of respect for the events committee, and I’m excited to see how we can improve the approval process for both the event organizer and the downtown,” LaLone said. “We hope to come up with some benchmark processes for outside groups to create an event that is more likely to be approved.”

LaLone added that the committee, which has three downtown business representatives, hopes to create a plan so that events will have less of an impact on downtown businesses and residents.