Lake Orion Celebrates Memorial Day 2024

Lake Orion Celebrates Memorial Day 2024

LAKE ORION, Mich. – Memorial Day festivities were put on throughout Lake Orion on Monday, May 27. Events for that day included the Orion Veterans Memorial 5k and 5-Mile Run/Walk, ceremonies to honor those who gave their lives in the line of duty, as well as the Memorial Day parade that took place downtown.

At the start of the day at 9 a.m., representatives of the American Legion Post 233 gathered at Eastlawn Cemetery on Orion Rd. for a memorial observance. Ladies’ Auxiliary President Sandi Boyd placed a wreath at the World War Veterans Monument to honor those who gave their lives while defending their country. At the same time, at Children’s Park in downtown Lake Orion, over 350 participants gathered for the 6th annual Orion Veterans Memorial Race.

Photo by Joe Johnson

ONTV’s Joe Johnson spoke to Jenny Bhatti, the Orion Township Communications & Engagement Specialist, before the start of the race about the running conditions and what this means to the community.

“Set up was interesting this year,” Bhatti said. “We had some giant puddles along our way and some pouring rain but the course is still beautiful and the runners are going to enjoy it.”

Gray, overcast skies draped over the course for the race, however, aside from the occasional drizzle and wet spot, runners were keen to start the race. This particular event is a fundraiser for the Orion Veterans Memorial and they have been putting on this race since 2017.

“We’re out here today for the Veterans Memorial, this is the only fundraiser they do, and all of the proceeds from this go towards the long-term sustainability of the beautiful memorial right there on Odanah and M-24.

At 9 a.m., the 5-mile race began, and 15-minutes later, the 5k runners headed to the starting line.

The first runner to cross the finish line this year was none other than Lake Orion’s Alexander Pollack, who was also the winner of the Dragon Dash 5k race at the Orion Center the previous weekend. Pollack pushed his two kids in a stroller to win with a time of 19 minutes and 28 seconds.

Photo by Joe Johnson

“We just like getting a good workout in and seeing people in the community getting out and about and enjoying the town,” Pollack said.

The first woman to cross the finish line was 17-year old Leah Zarrilli of Rochester Hills, who finished with a time of 21 minutes and 39 seconds. ONTV spoke to Zarrilli about why she spent her time this morning participating in the memorial day race in Lake Orion.

“To run with my friends and family and to honor those who have served our country,” Zarrilli said.

Like Pollack, sometimes participants race with unconventional gear or equipment, one of those runners was Lake Orion native Eddie Cromwell, who raced with a 35-pound ruck sack. ONTV’s Lexi McKinney spoke to Cromwell after the race and asked him why he raced today.

“It makes me feel great, to know that there’s people who are willing to come out and be able to run and to show support to people who have served our country and who have given their lives to fight for the freedom of America – it is such a great thing,” Cromwell said.

Everyone who crossed the finish line received a medal for participating in the race and supporting the local veteran community. VFW Post 334 Commander Jim Hubbard was busy handing our American flags in the drizzling rain to runners and walkers who completed the course.

Photo by Joe Johnson

When the race concluded, participants were invited to a ceremony hosted by the American Legion Post 223. Veterans and members of the community gathered together to dedicate some time to those who have served our country. Post Commander Steve Hauxwell commenced the ceremony with a heartfelt speech, afterwards, Ladies’ Auxiliary President Sandi Boyd then dropped a wreath into Paint Creek to honor those who lost their lives at sea.


ONTV’s Joe Johnson spoke to Hauxwell about the ceremony that took place and how the community came together to honor the fallen soldiers.

“This is done for those folks who have given their lives for us,” Hauxwell said “This is very special to us.”

Following the ceremony, at 11 a.m., residents and members of the Orion area community lined the streets of downtown Lake Orion to view the Memorial Day Parade. The event started at Blanche Sims Elementary and took the marchers through Jackson, Flint and North Broadway streets. At the start of the parade, Hauxwell introduced the Legion’s Veteran of the Year, Oxford native and Army Veteran Bill Quinn.

Photo by Joe Johnson

The parade consisted of not only veterans and members of the community, but also the Cub Scouts, military vehicles and the Lake Orion Dragon Marching Band.

The final ceremony of Lake Orion’s Memorial Day events took place at 1 p.m. at the Orion Veterans Memorial. Bob Smith, the Chairman of the Orion Veterans Memorial, was the emcee for the event. Smith welcomed the crowd in attendance and introduced retired US Navy Captain Matthew Butkis, who delivered the memorial day address.

Afterwards, VFW Post 334 Commander Jim Hubbard introduced 2024’s honored veteran retired US Air Force Lt. Colonel Cynthia Wright.

To conclude the ceremony, the names of those who have lost their lives in every conflict since the Civil War, each followed by a bell toll. Then, a gun salute and the playing of the taps took place to close the event.

The Orion Veterans Memorial is on 312 S Broadway Street and is open every day to those who want to visit. For more information visit

Orion Art Center Hosts Art and Flower Fair 2024

Orion Art Center Hosts Art and Flower Fair 2024

LAKE ORION, Mich. – The weekend of May 17, 18 and 19 welcomed back the Lake Orion Art & Flower Fair to downtown Lake Orion once again, the now 24-year old tradition of bringing beautiful flowers, many unique forms of art, family friendly activities and music to the streets of Flint and Broadway continued this year.

Photo By Joe Johnson

Before the Saturday and Sunday market opened up, a “Mystery Art Stroll” was put on 6 p.m., as well as a beer tent and live music an hour later to kick off the festivities.

Over 100 vendors were present in downtown Lake Orion this time, it was a great opportunity for artists to showcase and sell their work alongside the multitude of options folks had for picking out the perfect addition to their floral home-décor or garden.

The warm weather and fair skies made for a tremendous and record-breaking turn-out as four to five thousand people gathered to participate in the festivities, the event helped to support the Orion Art Center in their mission.

The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) used to run the fair, however, for four years now, the Orion Art Center has made this their show. Proceeds collected from the fair help run their artistic and community-based classes throughout the year.

Photo By Joe Johnson

On the 18th and the 19th, flowers bloomed from block to block, stunning framed paintings covered dozens of tents and there was even handmade art from recycled materials present at the event – the Orion area community’s talent shined through this weekend. ONTV’s Lexi McKinney talked to some of these talented artists and creators on Saturday about what inspires them and what they thought about the event.

“I’m so glad I could do this show,” one vendor from Clinton Township said. “It makes me feel relaxed when I do them, it gives me motivation.”

Art work shares stories and brings people together, this was made evident in another vendor ONTV talked to Saturday.

“What it does for me is I get out and I get to relate to people of all different walks of life, which is amazing,” a vendor named Joe Cilluffo said.

ONTV also talked to Holly Nicosia, executive director of the Orion Art Center about the event, as well as Monica Squarcia, a member of the Board of Directors at the Orion Art Center.

“This is one of our biggest fundraisers for the Orion Art Center and we love bringing the community out here and that’s one of our missions at the Art Center is bring creativity into the community, so it’s just a perfect way to get people into our beautiful downtown area…” Nicosia said. “It’s just a great community event all-around.”

Photo By Joe Johnson

Overall, the Lake Orion Art and Flower Fair was a great time for all, vendors and participants alike.

“I’m so proud of all the beautiful art tents we have, they’re looking fantastic,” Squarcia said.

The weekend was also a great way to tease and get a sneak peak into the 15th annual Dragon on the Lake Festival, August 23rd through the 25th.

For more information about the Orion Art Center, visit, and for more information about the upcoming Dragon on the Lake festival, visit

Orion Area Chamber of Commerce Hosts Women of Inspiration Luncheon 2024

Orion Area Chamber of Commerce Hosts Women of Inspiration Luncheon 2024

LEONARD, Mich. – On Thursday, May 16, 2024, at the Addison Oaks Buhl Estate, the Orion Area Chamber of Commerce hosted its female-focused “Women of Inspiration Luncheon.”

The Chamber puts on several networking events each year in order for business people around the Orion area to connect with one another, this year they put on a new event with some truly inspirational speakers.

Approximately 120 attendees joined the Chamber at the Addison Oaks Buhl Estate, everyone was treated to a nice lunch and entered into a raffle to win prizes donated by sponsors. “Swag bags” were also handed out during the luncheon, within the bags were treats and trinkets given out by local businesses such as the Oxford Bank, Genisys Credit Union and Keller-Williams.

Photo by Joe Johnson

The primary speakers at the event were representatives from Dutton Farm, Michelle Smither, along with her daughters, Jenny Brown and Rebecca Smither. Founded in 2010, Dutton Farm serves the local special needs community through educational programs.

Joyce Donaldson, the President and CEO of the Orion Area Chamber, spoke with ONTV’s Joe Johnson at the event about it’s purpose that day.

“We are here to celebrate women – women of inspiration – and we’re super excited about our guest speakers today from Dutton Farm… This is an opportunity for us all to gather, to support each other, and to inspire each other,” Donaldson said.

After the guests had lunch, Michelle Smither talked about the history of Dutton Farm, their mission, as well as introducing her daughter, Jenny, as the next speaker.

Brown spoke to the crowd about how she started the organization with her mother and sister, their humble beginnings to now over 100 people in their programs. Brown also spoke to Joe Johnson about what the event means to her.

Photo by Joe Johnson

“Being just here today, with all of these women, has already been uplifting. But to know that all of these women come together and care about lifting each other up, and just hearing about what we do at Dutton Farm, just that alone means the world to us,” Brown said.

Brown then introduced her sister onto the podium, who greeted the crowd and gave remarks about herself, what she does now and her gratefulness to her supportive family and community.

Michelle Smither, the co-founder of Dutton Farm and the mother of Jenny Brown and Rebecca Smither, spoke to ONTV about what it meant to start an organization like this one and how she can keep paying it forward.

“It’s great to be successful and be go getters and achievers but don’t forget the people behind you or the people who can’t do that or don’t have the choices and opportunities and help them along the way,” Smither said. “It does my heart good, especially as I age, that this will go on.”

For more information about Dutton Farm and their programs, you can visit, and for more information about upcoming events at the Orion Area Chamber, you can visit

Lake Orion-Orion Township Run/Walk Events Weekend of 5/17 2024

Lake Orion-Orion Township Run/Walk Events Weekend of 5/17 2024

LAKE ORION/ORION TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Two fun events for runners, walkers and athletes alike happened this weekend. The Donut Dash 5k and the Dragon Dash 5k events both took place on Saturday the 18th and Sunday the 19th respectively.

The Donut Dash 5k, which took place at Friendship Park in Lake Orion, was put on by YoungLife Lake Orion, an adolescent-focused religious group that puts on events in the community. Donuts were handed out during and after the race, with many young faces crowding the park that morinng enjoying their racing rewards.

Photo by Joe Johnson

The next day, on the other side of town, the Dragon Dash 5k event took place – starting at the Orion Center. The event primarily took place on the Polly Ann Trail, with runners of all ages and skill levels participating in the race.

In total, over 200 runners registered for the event, with 32 walk-ons registering that morning for the race.

The runners gathered at the starting line, and then… they were off!

Racers charged towards the entrance of the Polly Ann Trail, heading south towards Civic Center Park, then they turned around and headed back to the Orion Center – where the finish line was.

Photo by Joe Johnson

For the first time in the Dragon Dash’s 28-year history, the entry fees were collected and donated towards a local non-profit: Orion Area Youth Assistance.

ONTV broadcasting intern Lexi McKinney spoke to Jennifer Vezina, a recreation programmer at Orion Township Parks & Rec., Sunday morning about the 5k and how the event’s allocation will help children in need.

“All proceeds from this run will go directly to [Orion Area Youth Assistance], they will be awarding scholarships for participants needing financial aid to register for programs within the community,” Vezina said.

And the winner of the Dragon Dash 5k, for the second year in a row… Alexander Pollack.

Pollack, a Lake Orion Native, took the gold once again with a time of 18 minutes and 42 seconds.

“It’s hard to prepare for the heat, cause we’re coming out of winter so I think the heat got every body today, but, I don’t know, I just run a lot and have fun with it  – that’s how I prepare,” Pollack said.

Photo by Joe Johnson and Lexi McKinney

The first female runner to cross the finish line was Maria Brandon, with a time of 20 minutes and 8 seconds.

“I had a blast out there! It was a great course, it was so well administrated,” Brandon said. “I am actually a running coach over at Great Lakes Athletic Club… I train a group of runners through my cadence classes and I work out with them as well. But now honestly, I have two little kids so right now it’s a lot of stroller-running, but once I lose the stroller it’s a lot easier to run fast.”

Family and fun was had here at the Orion Center this weekend, many other events will be taking place in the Orion area in the following weeks, including another running event, the Veteran’s Memorial Day 5k and 5-mile Run/Walk May 27th, as well as the summer season kickoff with the “Summer Sizzle” at the Orion Center on June 2nd.

For more information about these events, visit


Team 302 Hosts RoboExpo 2024 at Lake Orion High School

Team 302 Hosts RoboExpo 2024 at Lake Orion High School

LAKE ORION – On Monday, May 13, 2024, Lake Orion Robotics (a.k.a. Team 302) hosted their annual RoboExpo at Lake Orion High School. Students from all-ages interested in Robotics came to LOHS to see robotics demonstrations and even control some robots.

Student representatives from Team 302 came together during the event to show off all of their robotics accomplishments from the past school year. ONTV’s Joe Johnson spoke to Bruce Stone, Lead Competition Mentor at Team 302 about the event.

“We put on an annual festival, where we bring in the entire program from kindergarten to high school to show off what the kids have done throughout the entire school year for competitive robotics,” Stone said.

So why robotics? Why should Lake Orion students care more about robotics than traditional sports like Football, Baseball or Soccer? Bruce Stone answered that exact question for ONTV.

“We are always looking for more kids, we are always looking for more engagement. We say that in robotics, this is the only sport that the kids will ever do that when they graduate, they’ll go pro – this is what they’ll do for the rest of their career.” Stone said. “All of this is about problem-solving and teamwork, learning engineering, science and technology skills… Learning how to work in a team, in a competitive environment where it’s kind of like the environment you would have at work.”

RoboExpo was a great opportunity for new students to get involved. Excited kids from all over the community came to learn more about robotics, but how soon can they get started?

“We start recruiting for the next season, right now… We recruit from middle school and elementary school because they start in the summer, right in the beginning of the school year and the high school team starts in the fall,” Stone said.

Team 302 is interested in finding new faces for their exciting robotics teams. If you or someone you know is interested, you can visit, or their Facebook at for more information and upcoming events.

Photo by Joe Johnson

Photo by Joe Johnson


Orion Center and Ascension Providence Rochester Hospital Host Motherhood Matters 2024

Orion Center and Ascension Providence Rochester Hospital Host Motherhood Matters 2024

ORION TOWNSHIP – On Thursday, May 9, 2024, Orion Township Parks and Recreation, along with Ascension Providence Rochester Hospital, pot on their second annual Motherhood Matters Health and Safety seminar at the Orion Center.

The event included raffles, speakers and nearly 20 different vendors that offered information. Speakers came to the Orion Center to deliver information about kids’ safety while driving, as well as information about Breastfeeding.

Joe Johnson of ONTV spoke to Tiffany Kennedy, the Community Health Coordinator of Ascension Providence Rochester Hospital about the event.

“We have our ‘Motherhood Matters’ – all the nurses are here, doctors are here and lovely vendors with lots of good gifts for the mamas and the families,” Kennedy said.

Resources from Ascension Providence Rochester came to the Orion Center to support Moms and Moms-to-be for Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 12.

“We have our lactation consultant from Ascension Rochester, we have some of our midwifes here as well, we have our primary care doctors, our trauma department – so lots of different people here from Ascension,” Kennedy said.

Fun activities and tips for household needs like picking up laundry or other items off the ground while pregnant, this was achieved in-part by the Great Lakes Athletic Club Team.

“We’re so grateful for our community partners, they did a wonderful job – lots of giveaways, lots of love and dedication to the community. It’s nice to see them all come together today,” Kennedy said.

Ascension Providence Hospital is at the Orion Center every Monday and Friday from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m.

For more information, visit or visit

Photo by Joe Johnson

Photo by Joe Johnson