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Village considers Lions Jubilee move downtown

February 12, 2014 - By Meg Peters

Review Staff Writer

The Lions Club and Lake Orion Village Council had a chat Monday evening about bringing the Lions Club Jubilee back downtown, involving laughter, old memories, and prospects of returning the beer tent.

Lake Orion Village Council is requesting public comment at the next meeting February 24 before approving the Lions Club request to close downtown roads and utilize parking lots for the weekend carnival.

The carnival would potentially run from June 18 to June 22.

Both Flint Street and Broadway would be closed the length of the carnival operations, from old Lapeer to Anderson and from Broadway to Front St. respectively.

If a beer tent is approved, Children's Park parking lot would be its home, and it would close at 11 p.m.

The Downtown Development Authority distributed a survey to downtown businesses before Christmas to see what concerns would impact a large component of the downtown community.

"The survey seemed to come back fairly positive, some of the major concerns, and they're the same with any big event in the village, is parking," said Joe Hildebrand, who is known as the Lion's Club's tail twister.

The new parking lot at Whiskey's old location will be a big help, he also said.

Hildebrand was also excited about other comments the survey brought to light concerning the amount of foot traffic an event like the Jubilee brings downtown.

"One of the businesses wanted to know about any classes that they could attend to learn how to take advantage of something like this," Hildebrand said.

The Lions Club has been in communication with The Orion Area Chamber of Commerce to try and develop an avenue to suit this request.

"I'm excited the event is going to be coming back, I know there are a lot of concerns I think one of the important things in coming back is the village is an identity for you folks," Village President Ken Van Portfliet said. "I know from the past there was a strong working relationship, and we need that right now. It was a great event in the past, and we thank you for that," he said.

Ideas about the beer tent were mixed amongst council members.

Councilman John Ranville joked the beer tent was not going to be big enough.

"If we just kept the Lions out of the beer tent that would make room for the crowd," Hildebrand said.

Other members did not feel as light hearted.

"I know the beer tent is a money-maker, but do we really need to introduce alcohol sales in what we're promoting as a family friendly event?" said councilman John Ranville.

Hildebrand said the beer tent was an outstanding source of revenue for their club, which they couldn't utilize at Canterbury Village because of the already existing liquor licenses.  

"The revenue for the carnival has steadily gone down (the past couple years) so bringing the beer tent back will definitely help the revenue stream to the club," Hildebrand said. "All the money we make goes straight back to the community," he said.

Shuttle options are being considered, including the North Oakland Transportation Authority along with other private contracts.

Churchill asked if the Lions Club had considered other open spaces in the area, such as the Kmart parking lot, which Lions Club Chairman Jack Patton said was too small.

"We're not fortunate enough in the village to have a big open space, we'd love to have a big open space," Patton said.

Village resident Mary Moore also had a few suggestions.

"Everything you need is practically here or nearby, so when you bring it back downtown please consider us," she said. "If it's a problem with cans, hey, you got people around here. You can get a lot of money out for those cans. I'm sure a lot of us would help in some way, it's just that no one has ever asked," Moore said.  

Community members are asked to voice their opinions at the next village council meeting February 24.

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