June 19, 2013 - The route has finally been settled for Oxford's Saturday, Aug. 3 parade celebrating the town's connection to the Lone Ranger.
Last week, the village council voted 4-0 to have the parade route along M-24 begin at Fire Station #1 (96 N. Washington St.) and end at the Oxford Marketplace shopping center.
The route is 0.84 mile.
The parade, which starts at 11 a.m., was originally going to begin at the Marketplace and end at the fire station. That's how it was advertised to potential entrants.
However, at the village's May 28 meeting, council voted to considerably shorten the route and change the parade's direction. It was to begin at the fire station and end at Daniel Axford Elementary School on Mechanic St.
This was done primarily to satisfy concerns related to the amount of police manpower needed for traffic control, the impact on certain local businesses and the ability of young children in the parade to walk that distance.
Those issues were largely resolved. For instance, the Oxford Village Police and Oakland County Sheriff's Department have agreed to work together on traffic control.
Oxford resident Rod Charles, chairman of the Lone Ranger Committee, was passionate about returning to the original 0.84-mile route. He felt the shorter route diminished the parade's significance.
"Folks I've talked to said they would really like a longer parade because let's face it, the whole theme deserves something (that draws) attention," he said.
The parade is meant to pay tribute to Oxford resident Brace Beemer, who voiced the Lone Ranger on the radio from 1941-54.
Beemer portrayed the masked lawman in more than 2,000 episodes heard by more than 80 million people on 129 radio stations nationwide. He lived on a 300-acre farm on W. Drahner Rd. and died in 1965.
Charles noted how he invited U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers (R-Brighton) to participate in the parade and one of his staff members remarked, "Well, it would be kind of tough for the congressman to come to Oxford (for) a parade that's two blocks long."
"You want something (that's) of some substance, so that people feel like its worthwhile (to attend)," Charles said. "Is there another event that Oxford could possibly have that would bring more people to Oxford? There is none. This is it. This is huge stuff."
Charles noted how Oxford must take advantage of the $250 million that Disney's spent to make and market its new Lone Ranger movie starring Armie Hammer as the masked lawman and Johnny Depp as Tonto, his faithful Indian companion.
"If there's an opportunity to make people aware of Oxford and the Lone Ranger theme, this is it," he said. "We may never get this opportunity again to use their $250 million to talk about something that's near and dear to (Oxford). Let's use their $250 million and let's bring some new people (to) town."
Once word about this parade really starts to spread, Charles believes the number of entries will swell.
"As this whole thing gets rolling . . . we're going to find more and more people interested in this parade," he said.
Ken LaPlace, station manager for Oxford Community Television, told council he contacted Detroit's WXYZ Channel 7 and the television station agreed to have either "a celebrity or on-air personality" participate in the parade.
"When I pitched the idea of them being part of the parade, they were more than happy to join in," he said. "So, I do have a commitment from them."
"The Lone Ranger" show was created by WXYZ back when it was a radio station. The show was broadcast three times a week from January 1933 to September 1954.
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the show's debut on the airwaves.
Oakland Township resident Joe Giordano spoke in support of Oxford's Lone Ranger activities.
"This is a great event," he said. "I'm glad you guys are kind of embracing this."
Giordano noted how this event has everything – a local connection (Brace Beemer), "star-power" (a film with Hollywood icon Johnny Depp) and the Disney company.
"To me, it's a win-win situation," he said. "You've got an opportunity to really market the town . . . I think once it gets rolling, it's going to have a life of its own."
The deadline to enter the parade is Monday, July 15.
Any and all entries are welcome including floats, bands, horses and other animals, classic cars, civic clubs, nonprofit groups, sports teams, scout troops, public safety agencies, local businesses and dance studios.
For more information about the parade or to secure a spot, please contact Oxford Village Manager Joe Young at (248) 628-2543 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.