Oxford ‘lit’ up with love

Oxford Village Police Chief Mike Solwold and his wife Shawna used electric lights for their luminaries. Photo by D. Rush

By Don Rush

It was a dark, windy and chilly Nov. 30 night, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of many local residents. Homes from Leonard Village, through Addison and Oxford townships, including area businesses, the Oxford community was lit up with love.

First St. resident Kevin Kerin’s family wanted to show their support and their love for victims of last year’s shooting. Photo by D. Rush

Nov. 30 was Wildcat Remembrance Day and for weeks, the community was encouraged to place luminaries at their homes and businesses and to light them at 7 p.m., in honor of those who lost their lives in the Nov. 30, 2021 shooting at Oxford High School where four students, Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana and Justin Shilling, lost their lives, six students and one teacher were injured.

Despite a wind advisory from the National Weather Service, luminaries and lights were lit on porches, sidewalks, fences and in yards.

Some folks made their own luminaries with paper bags or clear mason jars. Many received their luminaries from the All for Oxford Resiliency Center. “We gave out over 21,000 luminaries,” the center’s Susan Mingay said. “We ordered 22,000 and have about a thousand left. We sent them all over the nation and all over Michigan. Oxford was well represented.”

In Oxford Village, a few homes down from where Justin Shilling lived, Kevin Kerin’s family had four luminaries lit on the sidewalk in front of their home. “It’s a troublesome day,” Kerin said. “My kids went to Oxford High School. A sad day.”

Oxford resident Kevin Billadeaux, 58, decided to reflect on the day with a walk to Oxford’s downtown business district. Outside of the Funky Monkey Toy Store, 5 N. Main St., Billadeaux said he was paying tribute to the fallen students. “My two sons were friends of the girls, Madisyn and Hana. One of my sons is still at the high school, the other graduated last year. It’s been hard on them.” He paused and then added a message to the community. “It’s okay not to be okay. If you are in need of help, it’s okay to get help. I am so greatly sorry for their families.”

Oxford Police Chief Mike Solwold and his wife Shawna also put luminaries out in front of their home. Solwold was one of the first of over 100 first responders to the shooting. Upon reflecting on the past year he said, “That horrible incident dragged into many horrible days to come. You can’t put a number to it. The funerals, the injured, the vigils and community anxiety stretched for months leading up to a year later. We will all heal but we are scarred for life and rightfully so on edge every day. We can’t let our guard down because unfortunately these tragic events are happening too often.”

The Leader asked community folks to share their luminary pictures. We received hundreds of them, while we cannot publish them all, we are publishing many. Thank you for sharing the love. Those pictures are on Page 9.


Oxford resident Kevin Billadeaux takes a moment to reflect outside of Funky Monkey Toy Store in downtown Oxford. Photo by D. Rush





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