Weather takes bite at Heikinpaiva fest

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette Bruce Crossing-based filmmaker Kristin Ojaniemi, the 2018 Hankookin Heikki and grand marshal of the Heikinpaiva parade Saturday in Hancock, rides a cart driven by Dean Wascher and powered by horses Bonnie and Star.

HANCOCK — Despite cold temperatures and a brisk wind, there were smiles all around at the 2018 Heikinpaiva celebration on Saturday.

Attracted by daylong activities like a parade, tori (market), kicksleds, whipsled, wife-carrying contest and polar bear dive, the community came out in force, though some speculated that attendance was lower due to the cold.

The 2018 Hankookin Heikki was Kristin Ojaniemi, the youngest to be selected. The Bruce Crossing-based filmmaker created the documentary “Collectively Yours,” documenting the history of the Finnish cooperative movement.

The Hankookin Heikki is chosen by the Finnish Theme Committee to preside over Heikinpaiva for their contributions to Finnish-American culture.

“It’s an honor,” Ojaniemi said, “This is my first time to Heikinpaiva, and I’m the grand marshal.”

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette Kay Seppala, a dancer in traditional Finnish garb, does the Walking Chain Dance on the Hancock green.

Many parade participants came in traditional Finnish dress or as characters from the nation’s history and myth.

“I made most of the collection from the Finnish theme committee,” said Becky Weeks. Weeks was dressed as a shaman and pointed out several of her other creations.

“We have a lot of the characters from the Kalevala,” Weeks said.

Characters included Louhi, the witch from the north, and the swan from the River of Death, two characters from the epic poem.

Seth Dahl and Harold Noble participated as “knife fighters,” a name for various troublemakers from a period in Finnish history marked by a sharp uptick in crimes and unruly behavior. The two wore shackles in reference to the time period.

Other parade participants included Finlandia students, the Michigan Tech Pep Band and local organizations and businesses.

Immediately after the parade, the crowd met on the Hancock green to participate in the Walking Chain dance. Following a leader the crowd joined hands and looped about the green coiling together and then pulling back again, accompanied by the sound of traditional music.

The wife-carrying contest followed with couples or strangers attempting to carry one partner and go through the motions of preparing for guests.

Later in the afternoon, the polar bear plunge began once the wind had picked up sufficiently.

The Phi Kappa Tau fraternity sponsored the event and reported a good turnout with more jumpers trickling in all afternoon.