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September 26, 2012

Woodward Avenue tribute set to debut

Inaugural illumination set for Oct. 3

By Chris Jackett
C & G Staff Writer

ROYAL OAK — After more than a year of planning and fundraising, the Woodward Avenue Action Association’s (WA3) latest tribute is set for an illuminated unveiling next week.

Located on the Woodward Avenue median between 13 Mile and Coolidge roads, the 30-foot concrete and glass tower will be illuminated for the first time Oct. 3 during a special VIP event in the Northwood Shopping Center on the southwest corner of Woodward and 13 Mile.

“I am really excited about the tribute we’re going to present,” Mayor Jim Ellison said. “The artist, (Royal Oak resident) Kyle Evans, has really captured Royal Oak from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, as well as more recently. It’s going to be a focal point. It’s right there at Woodward and 13 Mile at the hub of the Dream Cruise and what used to be the cruising area back in the ‘50s and ‘60s.”

The landmark will be the fourth along Woodward Avenue, with the third being illuminated in Highland Park Sept. 26. The first two were set up in Ferndale in 2008 and Pontiac in 2010.

“Woodward Avenue is an all-American road and we truly believe it’s the most significant road in the state,” said Heather Carmona, WA3 executive director. “People want to live in dynamic, exciting, vibrant places and Woodward provides that. The (tributes) that are in now are strategically and geographically placed.”

The tribute did not use any city funds. WA3 obtained a $120,000 National Scenic Byway grant through the Federal Highway Administration, and was able to raise the remaining $30,000 necessary to install the $150,000 structure.

“We publicized we were having a shortfall and we’re having a VIP event,” Carmona said. “Grants are reimbursable. It’s not like we have $150,000 sitting in an account.”

Leo’s Coney Island and The Michael Chetcuti Foundation came through as the final two donors to cover the final $5,500 gap. The foundation said it would donate $2,000 if a matching donor would come forward. Leo’s Coney Island, located in the Northwood Shopping Center, stepped up to more than match the challenge with a $4,000 donation.

“All along I knew we would get there,” Carmona said. “To raise $30,000 to get $150,000, I think it was a no-brainer to get people to step up.”

The VIP event will run from 6-9 p.m. and feature the actual illumination just after dusk.

“It’s going to be a celebration (of) a joint effort between the community and sponsors,” Ellison said.

Carmona said the event would feature wine and hors d’oeuvres, among other items.

“We’re transforming a vacant storefront into the VIP event — somewhat of a nightclub scene.” Carmona said. “We’ve met our goal. We are inviting the public and we would like contributions.”

Sponsors and local government officials will be in attendance, but tax-deductible tickets, priced at $100 and $125, are also now available to the public through www.royaloaktributeillumination.eventbrite.com or by calling (248) 288-2004. Visit www.woodwardavenue.org for more information on WA3 or the event.
 

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Chris Jackett at cjackett@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1110.