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Parade set to light up the night

Participants entertain the crowd during the 2009 Holiday Lighted Parade in downtown Lake Orion. File photo (click for larger version)
November 10, 2010 - Wondering how to best kick off the holiday season?

Here's a thought: Start with the Holly Jolly Folly on Friday, Dec. 3 then bundle up and make a trip to downtown Lake Orion for the 2010 Holiday Lighted Parade.

The parade kicks off Saturday, Dec. 4 at 6 p.m., and organizers say there's still plenty of time for those who want to participate.

In addition to floats, the parade will feature bands, walking groups and lighted costumed walking characters.

This year's theme is Orion in Wonderland.

More than 60 entries - old favorites and brand new participants alike - streamed through the streets last year, delighting children and adults alike.

The parade, which began in 1989 and is now billed as the second-largest nighttime parade in Michigan, is hosted by Orion Area Parade Group

"I really like the parade's small town feel, and the way so many people participate," said Orion Township Treasurer Alice Young, who also serves as OAPG president.

The nonprofit organization sponsors the parade every year, and also selects Citizen of the Year, who serves as the parade's grand marshal.

Dr. Joe Mastromateo was 2007 Citizen of the year, and passed the torch to Sara Van Portfliet in 2008.

Larry Mullins earned the group's 2009 nod, and the 2010 Citizen of the Year will be announced in advance of the Dec. 4 parade.

The parade begins at Blanche Sims Elementary School and travels south on Florence to Flint Street; west on Flint to Anderson; south on Anderson to Front; west on Front to Broadway; and north on Broadway to Elizabeth, ending at the Ehman Center area.

Participants have the opportunity to earn accolades for Best Commercial/Business, Best Non-Profit Organization, Best Government Organization, Best Theme Depiction, Most Uniquely Illuminated, and People's Choice.

Santa - the holly-jolly guy himself - will make an appearance at the tail end of the parade, then hoof it up to the Orion Senior Center, where he's expecting a warm welcome, as well as some milk and cookies, from local dignitaries.

North Pole officials say Santa will also collect Christmas wish lists and pose for photos, although they warn "good boys and girls" are likely to get priority.

Lake Orion Police Chief Jerry Narsh said he anticipates "several thousand people in attendance" for the parade.

Due to the size of the parade and high volume of viewers, street closures all along the parade route may begin as early as 4:30 p.m., he said, with the entire downtown area closed to non-parade traffic, including street closures at M-24 at all downtown streets, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Tickets for the Holly Jolly Folly, the Holiday Lighted Parade's biggest fund-raiser, are $30, or ten for $270.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 3. Ticket price includes appetizers, dinner, dessert, beer, wine and soft drinks.

This year's event, sponsored by Golling Buick-GMC, takes place at Indianwood Golf and County Club. Casual holiday attire is appropriate.

"Due to Golling's huge renovations, the Holly Jolly Folly will be held at beautiful Indianwood Country Club this year," said Bill Kokoenos, OAPG vice president. "Like in years past, we will have a great silent auction with many, many items donated from local businesses. By being a part of the silent auction you are not only supporting the Orion Lighted Parade Group but you are supporting our local businesses."

Kokoenos noted a cash bar will be available, as well, with Music will be provided by The Michael Davis Trio.

Tickets for the Holly Jolly Folly are available at Pee Wee Patch or by phone at 248-814-1010. Visa and MasterCard accepted ($1 surcharge per ticket). Questions? Visit www.orionlightedparade.org or call 248-693-3152 or email info@orionlightedparade.org.

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