Source: Sherman Publications

Uncle Sam leads singing on Lake Orion

July 10, 2013

By Meg Peters

Review Staff Writer

If you were hanging around Lake Orion on the Fourth of July, you may have noticed Uncle Sam floating towards you slowly, in a paddleboat equipped with a loud speaker.

He might have been handing out sheets of paper, wishing you a happy Independence Day.

He might have been giving you instructions, too.

It was 77-year-old Al Krier, a resident of the lake along Dollar Bay that pulled together a 15-minute sing-a-long in honor of the United States, its citizens and veterans.

Those sheets of paper were the songs boaters echoed through Dollar Bay, reaching residents across the lake.

“People on Central Boulevard, way over a half a mile away mentioned they had heard the singing on the water,” Krier said.

Over 1,000 people, 100 boats, and 25 volunteers astride eight red-white-and-blue paddleboats sang America the Beautiful, God Bless America and the Star-Spangled Banner at 3:00 p.m. July 4.

“Believe it or not, this idea has been festering in me for five or six years,” Krier said, amazed at the amount of volunteers who stepped forward. “Normally when you’re putting something on you have trouble in finding people to help out. But people came by and said hey, we wish we could do more.”

He got the idea while out paddling.

“Every year I would go out with the Uncle Sam outfit on and wish people ‘Happy Fourth of July,’ and a lot of them would start singing the Star Spangled Banner, and that’s what gave me the idea to see if we could do it on a mass basis,” he said.

He brought his idea up to the residents of Dollar Bay and “the volunteers just came out of the woodwork.”

“They said ‘hey, we’ve had these people in our bay for many, many years, let’s see if we can do something a little bit different,’” he continued.

You could have heard a pin drop on Lake Orion during the moment of silence.

At 2 p.m. the 25 Dollar Bay volunteers paddled to anchored boaters of Dollar Bay—who had no idea what was coming—and instructed them to adhere to four things: At 3 p.m. to turn off their radios, to join in with Barry and Kathy McMinn and their singers for the first instrumental song, To be silent for a full minute after the first song was sung; and to sing the three other songs handed to them to finish up the festivity.

The moment of silence was in honor of those serving, and those who have served for the USA.

“If you could imagine 1,000 people being able to be silent, while on the bay, it was really moving,” he said.

Many of the volunteers were young adults, middle school and high school students, who went around to every property owner of Dollar Bay to inform them of the program a week before the surprise sing-a-long.

“Every property owner bought into it, and agreed with it 100 percent,” Krier said.

Dollar Bay resident Barry McMinn brought in his guitar. His wife Kathy sang along with Pat O'Day and Charlie Frady with some little ditties before the scheduled songs.

Sound equipment was hauled in.

Dollar Bay was bumping.

M&B Graphics of downtown Lake Orion even printed all of the sound sheets passed out to residents and boaters.

“I really didn’t have to do much,” Krier said.

Another sing-a-long is in the works for next Fourth of July, too.