How sad for the Mace family, and how sad for the lake community, that we lost a true piece of our heritage Sunday when Lee Mace’s Ozark Opry was severely damaged by fire.
There are few remaining artifacts of the original lake landscape, and what the Mace and Carl Williams families did over the years for the lake’s tourism hopefully will carry on even without the physical icons they built. For those who don’t know, Joyce Mace is a brother to Carl Williams, long-time developer, entrepreneur and property owner here. Carl’s legacy continues at Horseshoe Bend Parkway and Bittersweet Road where Carl’s Village Market serves The Bend.
Carl died in the last couple of years.
I never took up a liking for Opry, though I certainly have a deep appreciation for what that genre of music represents. In its day, Ozark Opry — and many like it in the south — reflected a grassroots style of entertainment that anybody from rural areas could enjoy. Main Street Opry down the road a bit continues a more contemporary adaptation of Opry music and comedy, and has to date survived.
Peoples’ tastes for entertainment evolve, and part of that evolution left pure Opry behind. Ozark Opry closed its doors in 2005 as attendance at interest in old-school country music and entertainment at the lake waned. The Grand Old Opry in Nashville continues to attract good crowds, but I suspect that’s an anomaly.
Regardless, our community weeps for its loss. The fire was the nail in the coffin for Ozark Opry even though it’s doors closed some eight years ago. Many of us realize what the Mace family did for the lake through its once-popular Opry.
And hats off to the firemen who did their best to squelch the flames as quickly as possible. It was fascinating to watch how well the departments worked in tandem, always communicating and making the right moves.
These men and women truly put their well-being on the line each time they don their gear.