Lighted Trail in Waterford Oaks Honors Lives Lost to COIVD-19
(Crystal A. Proxmire, March 13, 2021)
Waterford, MI – Waterford, MI – At one point in the half mile Oakland Together COVID-19 Tribute Walk, visitors round a corner through a space where 1,600 little blue dots seem to dance across the pavement and on the people passing through.
Each dot represents one Oakland County resident who died since the COVID-19 pandemic began a year ago.
The trail is near Lookout Lodge at Waterford Oaks County Park at 1702 Scott Lake Road in Waterford. It was designed for Oakland County Parks and Recreation by event production company Bluewater Technologies, and it features a serene pathway through a wooded area of the park with added lighted features including rows of rods made to glow like lighted candles, and canopies of cascading blue lights. Gentle mourning music encourages visitors to walk slowly and reflect.
Members of the public can reserve a time slot to visit the trail, with a ticket price of $5. The Tribute Walk will be open March 13th-14th from 8:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. and March 15th – 21st 7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Guests must select a time slot and purchase ticket on Eventbrite.
Brandy Boyd is an Oakland County Parks and Recreation employee who helped organize the efforts to create a space to honor the 1,600 lives lost. The pandemic hit her hard, as parents Carolyn and Arnie Sotke were hospitalized on their 50th wedding anniversary. Boyd’s mother died Aug 31, and her father followed on Sept 3. She was tasked with flipping the switch to illuminate the trail at the grand opening held on March 10.
She spoke about her parents, saying “They were the embodiment of love – a love for each other, a love for their family, and a love for their friends. They barely remembered a life without each other. They loved and supported my brother Jason and I in all of our life’s adventures.” The couple had three grandsons and a network of friends.
“My parents were friends to many. Once you were in their circle you became family,” Boyd said, adding that without them “Our lives will definitely never be the same.”
Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter led the ceremony, which was exactly one year from the first reported case. He shared that since the pandemic began, 16,000 county residents have contracted COVID and nearly 1,600 have passed of this disease.
“These are our neighbors, our friends, our coworkers, our loved ones,” Coulter said. “And part of the reason we are here this evening is to honor and remember them.
“This cruel pandemic has not allowed us to gather in the ways that we are used to, to properly grieve and honor the people we have lost. I’m hoping, we’re all hoping, that this tribute walk we’re unveiling tonight will bring some light, some comfort, and a profound sense of gratitude, frankly, for those who have given so much during this incredibly difficult year.”
Bluewater Technologies Chief Revenue Officer Bob Marsh walked the trail with his daughter, pointing out the various details and watching the reactions of people passing through. Coulter introduced Bluewater as a company that was successfully able to adapt their offerings to get through the pandemic. They began as an event company, but saw the need for immersive outdoor experiences. They are best known for the lighted Halloween-themed Glenlore Trails in Commerce Township.
“We wanted this to be something really special for the community,” Marsh said.
For more information and for tickets click here.