Update from the Orion Area Parade Group:
In light of the tragic events in our sister community of Oxford on November 30, the Orion Area Parade Group has postponed the Holly Jolly Folly and Orion Lighted Christmas Parade. We cannot celebrate the season while our community is hurting. The Holly Jolly Folly will be held Friday, December 17th and the Parade will take place (at 6 p.m.) on Saturday, December 18th. Please join us in extending our deepest sympathies and prayers to our grieving Oxford friends and neighbors
By Jim Newell
It’s the largest lighted parade in Michigan — and many in Orion like to claim the world. (Or that it will be soon.)
The Orion Area Parade Group is bringing back the annual Orion Lighted Parade beginning at 6 p.m. Dec. 4 in downtown Lake Orion with the theme, Christmas in Toyland.
“We’re excited to have this parade. We’re excited to get the people back downtown. I passed out flyers last night (at the Lake Orion Downtown Development Authority Sing & Stroll on Nov. 18) and people were excited and said it’s already on their calendar,” said Bill Kokenos, president of the parade group.
Last year, because of considerations surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the parade group had a handful of pickup trucks with a few characters in each and drove around to different neighborhoods so people could watch from their yards.
“I think this town is ready for something that everyone can enjoy,” Kokenos said. “Grandmas, grandpas, families, kids of all ages. The restaurants are excited to have people. We’re excited to put it on again.”
The parade will feature several marching bands, decorated floats, boy and girl scouts, dancers, first responder vehicles such as fire trucks and police cars, businesses, non-profits, school and community groups and Santa and Mrs. Claus, who will be at Village Hall, 21 E. Church St., after the parade.
The parade departs from Blanche Sims Elementary and travels south down Florence Avenue, west on Flint Street then to Anderson Street to Front Street, then north on Broadway Street to Elizabeth Street and ends at the Ehman Center on Lapeer Street.
Attendees can line the parade route but should stay on the sidewalks and away from the moving vehicles.
Any group that would like to include a float in this year’s lighted parade can contact the Orion Area Parade Group should visit orionlightedparade.com for a registration link, or email email@example.com.
The parade group would like to close registration on Dec. 2, but groups can still join the parade after that date.
“Anyone that comes the night of the parade that hasn’t been registered, still has to come in and get a parade number, but they will not be announced at the parade,” Kokenos said.
Groups and their floats will gather in the front of Blanche Sims Elementary and depart from the school; however, due to the pandemic and ongoing supply shortages, including personnel, the parade group will not be serving hot chocolate or pizza this year.
“The school will be open for warming and registration, but you will be required to wear a mask when entering the building,” Kokenos said.
During the parade, several streets downtown will be closed, Lake Orion Police Chief Harold Rossman said.
On-street parking in the parade route area will begin closing to motor vehicle parking at 11 a.m. on Saturday and will re-open directly after the parade route is re-opened.
Vehicles parked in the upper and lower municipal parking lots located near the intersection of Anderson and Front streets and the lot at the corner of Flint and Anderson (former Pet Centre) will be blocked from exiting the lots from 5:30-8:30 p.m. during the parade.
Streets will begin closing at 5:30 p.m. in areas adjacent to the parade route.
The Flint Street detour route will be Atwater Street from M-24 to Orion Road. Broadway at Front Street will have intermittent closures and detours while the stage is set and prepared for the event starting at 3 p.m.
Traffic on E. Flint Street at Florence Street will encounter back-ups starting at 3:30 p.m. to accommodate float arrivals to the staging area at Blanche Sims. All streets should re-open by 8:30 p.m.
Temporary one-way streets from 3-6 p.m. are: Florence Street will be one way (north only) for floats and all parade participants drop off at Blanche Sims School.
Jackson Street will be one way (west only) for vehicles exiting the area after dropping participants.