COPPER HARBOR - The promise of a Fourth of July in the Copper Country was enough to draw people in from out of the area, including many who were returning.
At the Allouez Township Park in Mohawk, people were eating sloppy joes, hot dogs and ice cream after the children's bike parade. Children were competing in potato-sack races and sifting through boxes of prizes such as stuffed animals and boomerangs.
Larissa Korhonen of Zion, Ill., was back to visit her parents, who live in Mohawk.
Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Molly Erkkila, 5, of Calumet competes in the potato-sack race at Copper Harbor’s Fourth of July celebration Thursday. Thousands of people observed the Fourth and parades and events throughout the Copper Country.
"It's just a nice small town, a little parade," she said. "It's fun for the kids."
After the Mohawk celebration, she planned to go to her parents' cabin in Rabbit Bay.
"We'll be out on the beach," she said.
Shortly after noon, the pavilion in Copper Harbor Park began filling up as the Copper Harbor Fire Department began cooking up brats, hot dogs and corn.
Department member Dan Fosner said the department's been doing the cookout at least 15 to 20 years.
They sell up to 500 hot dogs at each event. That money goes back to the department, which has bought extraction devices for vehicles and other things.
Shawn and Betsy Hubbard of Battle Creek, Mich., were eating with their children Jane, 6, and Elliott, 8. They were part of 16 people in their annual family gathering, held at a different state park every year.
They were there for the kids' activities Thursday before exploring Fort Wilkins.
"It's been great," Betsy Hubbard said. "Even with the chilly weather, we've enjoyed it."
Mindy Schmidt was bringing Gerald Arndt up from their Chicago suburb to show him what the Fourth of July was like in Copper Harbor.
"It's more like a family get-together than being in Chicago and watching fireworks with a million other people," Schmidt said. "That gets old."
For children who had gotten their fill of hot dogs and cotton candy, there were also the kids' games - a longstanding tradition in the park, though probably not the "197th annual" claimed by emcee Don Kilpela.
Children competed in events such as the potato-sack race, wheelbarrow race and watermelon-eating contest.
The small-town atmosphere is what keeps people coming back, Fosner said.
"This is hometown all the way," he said. "Parade in the morning, kids' games in the afternoon, fireworks at night. You've got to be a Commie not to like that."