By Dean Vaglia
Leader Staff Writer
The Oxford and Lake Orion Downtown Development Authorities (DDAs) were recognized for the #StrongerTogether campaign at the Main Street Oakland County awards in Pontiac on the night of Thursday, May 5.
The #StrongerTogether campaign was recognized as the best “Campaign for Main Street” by the event judges. The #StrongerTogether campaign was formulated after the Nov. 30 as a way to bring the Oxford and Lake Orion downtowns closer — and, as the name suggests, stronger — together.
“The DDA is so honored to have won the Campaign for Main Street Award in partnership with Lake Orion DDA,” Kelly Westbrook, executive director of the Oxford DDA, said via text message. “This truly shows the strength of the partnership we have built and how valuable it has been at revitalizing our two towns.”
The #StrongerTogether campaign has been built around coinciding events in the two towns, starting the February with the #StrongerTogether IceFest, continuing through March with an Oxford and Lake Orion shopping pass and a letterboxing scavenger hunt between the downtowns.
A trolley running between Oxford and Lake Orion has been operating since mid-February and recently received funding from Lake Orion to continue operating into 2023. As of printing the trolley is out for repairs and is expected to be back in operation soon.
While most of the #StrongerTogether campaign occurred in the winter and early spring, Westbrook says the campaign will continue into the summer. Tuesday, June 17 will be the Lû»au-themed Ladies’ Night across both Oxford and Lake Orion from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“All the bars and restaurants are going to be serving fruity drinks and Lû»au drinks,” Westbrook said. “We are both going to be doing the same thing in Lake Orion and Oxford, and we will have two check-in points and then you can jump on the trolley and ride back and forth.”
Outside of Ladies’ Night, the partnership will focus on promoting entertainment in the respective towns. The plan right now is to put out a post listing various events in the two towns and the trolley operating hours with the goal of getting more people to either event.
“We are trying to bring activities to get people into town,” Westbrook said.
Oxford DDA Board Chair and Oxford Township Trustee Rod Charles received the “Main Street Innovator” award from Main Street Oakland County. The award is for his service with the DDA and, according to Westbrook, his “30 years of making changes in the community.”
“I am proud of earning the Innovator award on behalf of our DDA team and wonderful Executive Director,” Charles said via text message. “Innovation can be challenging because it goes against the grain of being comfortable with the status quo. It requires confidence and [a] sense of purpose to plow forward. Oxford is fortunate to have DDA board members, volunteers, and an Executive Director who are committed to innovate on behalf of our town.”
By Dean Vaglia