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Lone Ranger Day parade, festival return

The Lone Ranger will ride again in Oxford on Saturday, Aug. 2. (click for larger version)
July 23, 2014 - Who was that masked man?

The answer to this question uttered by countless folks on radio, television and the silver screen can be found in Oxford as the community prepares to host its second annual Lone Ranger Day parade and festival on Saturday, Aug. 2 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Oxford resident Rod Charles, chairman of the Lone Ranger Committee (or posse, as he's fond of calling it), wants this year's event to be a "first-class affair."

"We want to make Oxford proud of this event," he said. "We want people from other communities to say, 'Wow! Oxford's got their act together.'"

Last year's wildly-popular Lone Ranger celebration focused on Hollywood's resurrection of the character via a blockbuster movie and Oxford's connection to the masked lawman via Brace Beemer.

Beemer was the distinctive, booming voice of the Lone Ranger on the coast-to-coast radio show from 1941-54. He lived in Oxford Township from 1942 until his death in 1965.

Charles said this year's celebration – which is being cosponsored by Genisys Credit Union, McDonald's and Oxford Bank – will focus on emphasizing "the good qualities" of the Lone Ranger's personal character including his devotion to justice, his commitment to protecting the innocent and weak, his honesty, his humility and his adherence to a strict moral code.

The main attraction of Lone Ranger Day will be the 11 a.m. parade scheduled to start at the Oxford Marketplace shopping center and head north on M-24 to the fire station on Church St.

James Robert Redford, a circuit court judge in Kent County and a candidate for the Michigan Supreme Court, will serve as the parade's Grand Marshal.

A decorated veteran of the U.S. Navy, Redford worked as a federal prosecutor taking on drug rings and money-laundering operations. He's served as a circuit court judge since January 2003 and was made chief judge pro tem in 2010.

"I had conversations about his background with several attorneys I know and they all said he is a good American, who lives the values that the Lone Ranger character stood for," Charles said. "The theme of the parade is 'Ride for Justice' and he fits in with that perfectly."

Outside of the courtroom, Redford was an active leader in scouting and in 1996, the Boy Scouts honored him with the Silver Beaver Award, the highest award a local council can bestow upon an individual. He's a member of American Legion Post 311 and has spent time singing in his church choir.

So far, the parade has 40-plus entries, but Charles said the committee is diligently working to sign up more every day.

Monday, July 28 is the deadline to register an entry for the parade. To sign up, call Oxford Village Manager Joe Young at (248) 628-2543 or e-mail Charles at jcharles04@charter.net.

Many exciting entries are already scheduled to appear.

The legendary Wells Fargo Stagecoach will once again roll along M-24 as part of the parade.

"It was the talk of the town last year," Charles said. "It's one of the iconic symbols of the Old West."

Pulled by a team of six horses, the Wells Fargo Stagecoach once travelled wherever the railroads ended, carrying valuables, mail and even passengers across America's vast plains, treacherous mountains and scorching deserts.

Joining the stagecoach along the parade route will be a group of Detroit Shriners known as "The Americans."

"It's not the guys with the little cars," Charles said. "They do western reenactments, so it's a great fit."

According to the Detroit Shriners website, "The Americans" depict "the days of old by creating images of cowboys, both good and bad, (and) performing in the streets in full costume, while on motor bikes mimicking horses."

The group's performance includes "the world famous stagecoach robbery," which is described as "great entertainment for the parade audiences" that's sure to put smiles on kids' faces.

There will be plenty of horses in the parade as sheriff's department mounted divisions from Oakland and Lapeer counties will trot along the state highway.

Music will not be lacking in the parade as the Civil War-era 5th Michigan Regiment Band, North Oakland Dixieland Band and Oxford High School Marching Band are all scheduled to appear.

OHS band alumni are being encouraged to march and play as well, according to Charles. A rehearsal is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 30 in the OHS band room.

Alumni interested in performing are asked to contact Oxford Band Director Jim Gibbons at (248) 969-5164 or via e-mail at jim.gibbons@oxfordschools.org.

Oxford's cheerleaders will keep the crowd's spirits high with some assistance from Lake Orion's cheerleaders and varsity dance team.

"I'm gratified that the Orion athletic director, Bill Reiss, was helpful in arranging that for us," Charles said.

The parade will also include classic cars, vintage tractors and two of the giant papier-mache heads from Detroit's Thanksgiving Parade Company.

Lapeer classic rock radio station U.S. 103.1 FM will do a remote broadcast, courtesy of Mark A. Young Jewelers, in downtown Oxford during Lone Ranger Day.

But the fun doesn't end with the parade.

There will be live music in Centennial Park from 12:10 to 3 p.m. with performances by Annie and Gracie Calvaneso, the 5th Michigan Regiment Band and WDIV Channel 4 anchorman Devin Scillian accompanied by the Arizona Son band.

Scillian is an accomplished musician and singer-songwriter who's released three albums containing original country and folk music. His music is popular in Europe, where one of his singles, "Half Past You," hit number one on the country charts in Denmark.

Scillian's performed as part of America's Thanksgiving Parade and Budweiser's Downtown Hoedown in Detroit. Over the years, he's shared the stage with country music superstars such as Toby Keith, Reba McEntire and LeAnn Rimes.

Nobody will starve at Lone Ranger Day as the "Taste of Oxford" is scheduled to return to the southwest parking lot behind Centennial Park. The event offers visitors the opportunity to sample all the fantastic food Oxford has to offer.

Participating restaurants and food vendors include 'Wiches, Victoria's Delights, Sullivan's Public House, The Oxford Tap, 24th Street Sports Tavern, the Ox Bar and Grill, Casa Real, Golden Dragon, Vendetti's, Lili's Diner, Tokyo Sushi and Thai, Red Knapp's American Grill, Burning Oak Smokehouse, Italia Gardens, Montana's Rib & Chop House, Boulder Pointe, and Treetop Lodge & Catering.

Can't wait for lunch?

Immanuel Congregational United Church of Christ (1 Hovey St.) will be offering breakfast from 7:30 to 10 a.m.

There will be plenty of fun things for children of all ages as "Kidz Town" returns to downtown's northwest parking lot. It will include arts and crafts, bounce houses, an obstacle course, retro games, llama rides and much more.

All-day access to the "Kidz Town" fun will be available for $5 per child. One dollar will be donated to the Blessings in a Backpack charity, which helps feed low-income school kids.

The Rotary Club of Oxford will once again host its Classic Car Show in the southwest parking lot. Be sure to check out all the vintage vehicles while listening to classic rock-n-roll hits.

An eclectic mix of artists, potters, crafters and vendors will be displaying and selling their unique wares along W. Burdick St. in an area sponsored by the Oxford Women's Club.

The Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce will once again pitch its Business Expo tent along E. Burdick St. It will be filled with representatives from local businesses, charities, civic groups and other organizations.

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.
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