COVID-19 Tribute Walk gives Oakland County residents chance to pay tribute, express gratitude

Thousands of Oakland County residents recently paid tribute to those who lost their fight with COVID-19 since the virus first surfaced in Oakland County one year ago.

More than 3,000 people came to Waterford Oaks County Park last month to walk the half-mile trail that was transformed into an immersive and illuminated light display designed to honor those lost to COVID, pay tribute to the front line workers who continue to keep residents healthy and safe and give thanks to all who have helped us through the last year.

Another 5,243 people tuned in for the nightly live stream of the display, which ran from March 10-21 and was created by Wixom-based Bluewater Technologies, which also created the wildly popular Glenlore Trails, a holiday-themed, outdoor light display in Commerce Township.

“We knew we couldn’t let this solemn milestone pass without acknowledging what a difficult year it’s been for all of us,” said Oakland County Executive David Coulter. “The Tribute Trail and other COVID-19 related activities we sponsored gave our residents the chance to grieve losses, celebrate heroes and look forward to a time when the pandemic is behind us.”

Bob Marsh, chief revenue officer for Bluewater, said the company was honored to work with Oakland County on the memorial walk.

“This all started with an off-the-wall idea when the pandemic hit to help our company devise innovative ways to leverage our experience and generate revenue when the event world shut down,” Marsh said. “We are thrilled that it turned into a wild success with Glenlore Trails, and then eventually got noticed and recognized to create a similar version for the COVID-19 Tribute Walk.”

Bluewater also donated a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales from the Tribute Walk, after paying expenses, to the CARE House, a Pontiac-based agency that provides services for children who are the victims of child abuse and neglect. They will receive about $3,500 from the Walk.

In addition, hundreds of visitors to the COVID-19 Walk posted names and notes on three tribute boards as lasting memorials that will be displayed on Oakland County’s government campus. The county also developed Remembrance and Gratitude Story Maps online for residents to share thoughts on those they lost and messages of thanks for everything from small acts of kindness to strangers to the continued work of frontline workers.

Dozens of people contributed memories on the Story Maps, which can be viewed at www.oakgov.com/covid/tribute/Pages/default.aspx

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