There’s no Polish Country Fair this Memorial Day weekend, and if you’re upset, Orchard Lake Police want you to know: Don’t blame us, we’re not the reason why. it was cancelled.
“I think it’s very simple,” Orchard Lake Police Chief William Nicholson told the Free Press on Friday. “The school made the decision not to go ahead with the fair anymore, and I think people think there’s more and they’re trying to make a story that just doesn’t exist.”
Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Prep said months ago it was suspending — and may end — its major annual fundraising event, citing security concerns.
But the Orchard Lake Police Department, which St. Mary’s Prep consulted earlier this year, was recently bombarded with so many calls from local media, the chief issued a statement saying that if “any large event in the middle of air is a potential target in the current climate,” the decision to end the event was “solely made by the school.”
St. Mary’s Prep did not respond to calls and emails from Free Press.
The school – which bills its annual Polish countryside fair as “the biggest high school fair in the country” – canceled its four-day festivities in early February. In a letter to his moms and dads clubhe blamed security and safety issues.
It was just two months after an Oxford High School teenager was arrested and charged with shooting dead four students and injuring six students and a teacher. And Michigan schools were facing dozens of copycat threats.
Moreover, even before the mass shooting – which dates back nearly a decade – news reports confirm visitors and organizers faces a growing problem of fights and unruly mobs.
In the letter, which was signed by the school’s principal and chairman of the board, the school said it was a difficult decision to make and hinted it might look to d other fundraisers to replace the fair.
He thanked the club for their “understanding and support in these difficult times”.
But more recently, as the terror of the shooting has subsided, people disappointed by the school’s decision – including parents, salespeople and even a public relations professional – have raised questions.
Was there a specific threat? If safety and security were involved, why is the school having a fundraising concert on May 29? And does the school have a greater obligation to vendors, customers and the community to preserve a cultural tradition?
St. Mary’s, after all, was created for Polish-American boys to prepare for the priesthood. The school colors – red and white – reflect its Polish roots. And Pope John Paul II, of Polish descent, visited the school – twice.
The fair, as the name suggests, was a Polish-inspired event that featured Polish food, a play tent, a sports tent, and carnival rides. It benefits high school students and attracts around 100,000 visitors.
Nicholson said his department met with school officials earlier this year and urged increased security and vigilance and warned of the dangers large events could pose, but did not not urged the school to cancel the event.
It’s possible, he said, that the school’s letter exaggerated the risks.
“They asked, ‘Do you have any concerns? ” he added. “Well, of course, we have concerns. We live in a different world than a few years ago. But these are not concerns that we cannot overcome.”
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Nicholson said the department could partner with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department, as it has done in the past, to ensure it has enough officers and equipment to protect residents. visitors.
“I told them this: If you have the fair, let us know and we’ll put the proper security in place to make it happen,” he said. “If you decide not to, whatever path you want to take is fine with us.”
Contact Frank Witsil: 313-222-5022 or [email protected]