Why Is There A Chevy Chase Boulevard In Kalamazoo?
There's been plenty of celebrities that, one way or another, roll through Kalamazoo in their lifetime. Many of them attended K-College, or Western Michigan. But others simply call it home.
But Chevy Chase is not on that list. In fact, the closest connection Chevy Chase MIGHT have to Kalamazoo, is he could have driven down I-94 a few times for work or travel. It's Highly doubtful he stopped here for any reason. So WHY is there a street in Kalamazoo named after him?
I nearly got into a wreck when I discovered this road. I wanted to avoid the construction on Portage, and figured I hadn't driven down Oakland in a while, so that's the way I took, and RIGHT as I came to a turn for Woods Lake, I saw it...
... IS THAT FOR REAL?
I pumped my brakes, doing a double take to my right, and momentarily forgot I was driving a thousand-pound vehicle. Thankfully, that was only for a split second, but YES! I did just see that. There's a Chevy Chase Boulevard in Kalamazoo!
Kalamazoo has plenty of streets named for other people. "Westnedge" is named as a memorial tribute to Colonel Joseph Westnedge, who fought in World War I, and was from Kalamazoo. So where's the connection to Chevy Chase?
Turns out... there is none. Chevy Chase (to our knowledge) has never been to Kalamazoo. In fact, the road pre-dates him even existing.
Western Michigan's WMUK did some digging on the subject back in 2022, and found out the name could be named for a border clash between England and Scotland from 1388, "The Battle of Otterburn." That battle was memorialized in history as a poem, and song called "The Ballad of Chevy Chase."
"God Prosper Long our Noble King,
Our Lives and Safeties All,
A woeful hunting Once there did,
In Chevy Chase Befall,"
Turns out, the battle took place near the village of "Cheviot," but pronounced more closely to "CHEE-vee-it," and at the time, Scottish hunting grounds - where this actual battle was fought - were called a "Chase."
So "Chevy Chase" Boulevard has nothing to do with the actor. And, it's worth noting, that's not even his real name. He was born Cornelius Crane Chase. (Chevy was a much better choice).
BUT, if Kalamazoo DID want to name some roads after a few celebrities who were born here, they certainly have a long list of possibilities.