Royal Oak’s Famous Sons and Daughters and Must See Areas/Things to Do:
There are a few residents who have made it “big.” Perhaps the most internationally famous and respected was Glen Frey. Mr. Frey was a Royal Oak native, grew up playing high school dances in the area, and eventually became a founding member of the Eagles, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio in 1998. The guitarist of the Eagles passed away on Monday, January 18, 2016, from complications from arthritis, pneumonia, and other ailments at the age of 67. Actress Kristen Bell is another famous face from Royal Oak. A graduate of Shrine High School, Bell went on to perform in plays, video games (the Assassin’s Creed franchise), TV shows (Veronica Mars) and movies (the voice of Anna in Frozen). Actor Keegan-Michael Key, of the Comedy Central duo Key and Peele, also graduated from Shrine Catholic High School. He appeared on MAD TV, Parks and Recreation, How I Met Your Mother, and Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia, as well as on The Simpson’s, Archer, and Bob’s Burgers Judith Guest, author of Ordinary People, and Tom Hayden, who recently passed away, served in the California State Assembly and was an anti-war and civil rights activist.
Royal Oak is also home to many attractions such as The National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica, the Woodward Dream Cruise, and the Arts, Beats, and Eats Festival. The National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica is a pilgrimage site for many around the world due to its association with Saint Therese of Lisieux, the “Little Flower.” The Roman Catholic Church that stands today at the corner of Woodward Avenue and 12 Mile Road was built between 1931 and 1936 and is a great example of the art-deco style. It is also the third largest building in Royal Oak. Notable people such as Babe Ruth have visited the parish, and it was founded by one of the most influential Catholic priests of his time, Father Charles Coughlin. The crucifix tower is the most recognizable part of the church. The image of the crucifix is twenty-eight feet tall. The tower, not used today, is best known for the place where Fr. Coughlin broadcast his controversial radio program during the Great Depression. To this day, the mention of this activity still fuels controversy.
The Woodward Dream Cruise and the Arts, Beats, and Eats festival are Royal Oak’s two biggest events. The Dream Cruise draws roughly 1.5 million people and 40,000 classic cars and is the world’s largest one-day automotive event. Arts, Beats, and Eats takes place over the Labor Day Weekend and is a three day art, music, and food festival featuring artists, 200+ performers on multiple stages, and renowned cuisine. The 2015 installment saw over 380,000 visitors.
McDonald, Maureen, and John S. Schultz. Royal Oak. Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2010. Print.
National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica Website