Western U.P. village goes all out to mark holiday
After COVID, many of the veterans of the planning committee stepped back to a consulting role, letting new recruits step up, said Elise Rinna, who was helping serve up pulled-poll sandwiches and other foods at the booth after the parade. Rinna and other committee members began planning in September, accelerating their work after the holidays.
This year’s festivities had all the same favorites including the parade, children’s games, fireworks. One change came in the form of an afternoon kickball game, which replaced last year’s softball.
“I think folks have a good time coming out and watching it and having fun,” she said. “We’ve got more repeat vendors and things like that, just trying to get back on our feet after COVID.”
Rinna enjoys being able to help the community both celebrate America and have fun together.
“We live in a small, small community where it’s incredibly important to have these events and have people get together in the social aspect and enjoy a meal, watch the parade — kind of poke fun at each other if you’re in the parade,” she said.
The parade saw plenty of friendly jawing back and forth, as firefighters sprayed people with water or pelted them with water balloons. When a balloon didn’t pop, the original thrower got pelted right back.
Travis Rollins of Bryan, Texas has been coming to the parade with his family for more than 15 years. He has family ties to the region: his great-grandparents emigrated from the Swedish-speaking region of Finland; they’re commemorated with a stone at the Settlers’ Co-Op.
His grandmother was born in Ontonagon in 1916. His parents are snowbirds who come up for most of his summer, his mother is a member of the Depot Gallery.
His family comes up and stays at the cabin his great-grandmother bought. They come out to the parade and also take part in other events: before his COVID, his wife would enter the pie-baking contest, even winning one year.
“I like the old tractors,” he said. “And I’m a volunteer firefighter in Texas so you can’t go wrong with fire trucks. I like the old cars, and it’s fun, family-friendly. And it doesn’t take forever, either.”
In the park after the parade, children tried to win fish, or played games like Sawdust Scramble, where they sifted through mounds of sawdust for coins placed there beforehand.
Jakob Applekamp of Bessemer was watching his child play games in the park. He’s been coming to the parade for years.
“I come up here every year to try to see family and friends, and bring my kid here to share those kinds of memories,” he said. “The gathering is my favorite part.”