By James Hanlom
Leader Staff Writer
Out of respect for the recent tragedy, both the Soup and Sweet Stroll and the Annual Christmas Parade this weekend have been canceled.
Instead, the Oxford Downtown Development Authority and The Oxford Chamber of Commerce are planning a prayer vigil Friday night for those who perished, or were harmed, in the shooting at Oxford High School.
M-24 will be completely closed from East Street to Broadway from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Pastor Matt Schuler from Journey Lutheran Church will lead the prayer vigil starting at 7 p.m.
A flatbed truck will be parked, as a stage, in the middle of the M-24 and Burdick St. intersection. Speakers will be set up on all four corners of the intersection, so people can gather down the streets in all four directions.
“We’re expecting upwards of 5,000-10,000 people,” said DDA Executive Director Kelly Westbrook. “We’ve been reached out to from so many communities, that there was no way we could fit everybody in Centennial Park. We wanted everybody to be a part of it so we knew that we needed to do it right and shut everything down and make sure that everybody has a space that wants to be there.”
Oxford Police is working with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office to make sure a safe perimeter is blocked off.
There are no plans to hold the Soup and Sweet Stroll or the Christmas parade at a later date. “Some were disappointed, but we want to do the right thing by the community,” said Oxford Chamber Executive Director Amy Desotell. The Chamber will still serve hot chocolate and coffee, and pass out candles at the vigil.
Many people who had signed up for the Soup and Sweet Stroll, still wanted to come out Friday night to show their support. “A lot of times people find comfort when the community gathers,” Westbrook said, “but then other people need to be by themselves. So of course I still wanted to do something, but it’s not joyous, so we couldn’t do Soup and Sweet and feel good about that because there can’t be joy right now. But I think it’s still important for our community, especially our small hometown, to come together and pray for these families.”
Leonard Christmas Tree Lighting will continue, respectfully
The Village of Leonard Decorating Committee has decided to have “a more subdued and respectful event” than was planned for this year’s tree lighting.
Leonard Community Church Pastor Dan Wells will lead an invocation and prayer, followed by the Christmas tree lighting. The event is still scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 3 at Rowland Hall. No vendors will be present.
“We pray for the healing actions that this community event can bring forth for all of us,” an official notice from the village said. “Please join us in spirit or with your presence for this healing event and recognize the true spirit of Community despite the tragedy around us and support those who need it. Let the outpouring of spirit lead us to better days and a safe and prayerful Holiday Season.”
Amen and Godspeed