#StrongerTogether Icefest starts next week

Last year Oxford DDA’s Kelly Westbrook was pictured in the Downtown Trolley Express. File photo.

Oxford and Lake Orion DDAs growing

By Don Rush

Starting the first weekend in February the #StrongerTogether Icefest returns to the downtowns of Oxford and Lake Orion. Just like last year there will be ice sculptures, business specials and the Downtown Trolley Express connecting both communities.

According to Oxford Downtown Development Authority Project & Media Coordinator Kimberly Smith the Icefest will last all month with different themes each week. Each week ice-sculptor Clinton Rich of Clear Cut Ice Sculptures, Commerce Township, will carve out new sculptures matching the themes,  StrongerTogether, Sports, Business Logos and Retro Movies. Thursday nights in Lake Orion he will also do live ice carving presentations. The ice sculptures will be placed in front of different downtown businesses and will stay there, “until they melt.”

On Feb. 9, 5 to 8 p.m., the Oxford DDA is also bringing back Galentine’s Day – a night out for women to celebrate their friendships with each other.”Generally speaking,” Smith said. “There will be food tasting, sales and happy hour specials.”

During the month of February the Downtown Trolley Express will transport people between Oxford and Lake Orion on Thursdays (5 to 9 p.m.) and Saturdays (3 to 9 p.m.). The trolley runs continually during those times, each loop taking about 20 minutes. In Oxford the pickup location is at the Magic Brownie Box, 40 N. Washington St.; drop-off at Funky Monkey Toy Store, 5 N. Washington. In Lake Orion the pickup location is at Fork & Pint, 51 N. Broadway St.; drop-off at Nuts About Chocolate, 59 S. Broadway.

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One thing different this year is ownership of the trolley. Last year the trolley was owned by SMART. Last week, Oxford DDA purchased the trolley for $6,100. The trolley will be stored in the North Oakland Transportation Authority building on Glaspie St. According to Oxford DDA Executive Director Kelly Westbrook, the Lake Orion DDA has agreed to fund $5,000 for repairs to the trolley.

It needs some tuneups,” Westbrook said. “There’s an oil leak, it needs work on the brakes and the wheelchair lift. SMART was great to work with, but we wanted ownership. We will also continue our partnership with LIV (Cannabis, 453 S. Broadway St., Lake Orion). Now, we know this program is not going away.”

She said when the trolley ran last year, local businesses saw a 15 percent increase.

The trolley had 5,000 fares last year,” she said, adding that the trolley rides are free. “There is a tip jar, though, for the driver.”

In March the trolley will run on Fridays and Saturdays.

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Also in March both Westbrook and Lake Orion DDA Directory Molly Lalone will give a 45 minute presentation at the Main Street National Convention in Boston, MA.

We’re going to talk about our #StrongTogether program,” Westbrook said. “People from across the country want to know how we started working together. It is not common for communities to work together as we have done. It helps that our personalities match up. Both Molly and I know long after we are gone, our communities and local businesses have seen how working together has affected them.”

She added the two DDAs hope to expand when the trolley runs and to add more collaborative events throughout this year.


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