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Maze Runners: Snow maze highlight of Baraga County Winter Happening

L’ANSE – The kids were moving too fast to count, ducking into dead ends and running for freedom, getting as much fun as one day would allow out of the snow maze at the Baraga County Winter Happening.

“I’ve already done this two or three times,” said visitor Eliza Thomas from Iron River. She’d been back inside the L’Anse Area School for food and gym games, she explained, but the maze keeps her coming back outdoors.

“It has three dead ends, and you can play lots of games,” said Robert Johnson of Houghton, pausing just long enough to catch his breath. “Maze runner, tag, hide and seek.”

The snow maze, built with help from local contractors, Michigan Tech Winter Carnival statue-building veterans and a host of other volunteers, may have been the biggest hit with the nonstop-energy set, but it was just one of many activities for all ages at the Happening.

“Apparently the polka dance last night brought in a lot of seniors,” said Baraga County Chamber of Commerce member Terry Lerma, “and a lot of people are excited over the fireworks.”

The chamber was the primary organizer of the Happening, but they had a “terrific amount of support from volunteers and sponsors,” according to Lerma.

Other Happening activities included a Friday family dance and buffet dinner at the Whirl-I-Gig. On Saturday, there were about two-dozen vendors at the school, along with movies, kids games, health screenings and a pair of food trucks from Marquette offering barbecue and Mexican fare.

“I had Senor’s Tacos,” said Lerma. “I know now why the locals really like it.”

Outside, there were kick sleds, dog sled rides and a three-mile snowshoe hike on the L’Anse school trial.

Linnea Prost was on the hike with members of The Snowshoe Bunnies, a group of women who snowshoe together weekly all winter. Whitey and Nancy Soli had volunteered to sweep behind the hike to make sure no stragglers were abandoned.

“It’s nice to come out with a bunch of people,” Whitey said.

Lerma said turnout was good for a first time, but the chamber hoped to grow the event for next year. They may consider a different weekend, though, instead of going head-to-head with Michigan Tech’s nationally known Winter Carnival.

“We thought it would be good for people driving through, but the local response was not to do it at the same time,” Lerma said.