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An annual July 4th tradition: Baraga celebrates Lumberjack Days

Baraga celebrates Lumberjack Days

BARAGA — As they have for more than 50 years, Baraga-area residents celebrated the Fourth of July with Lumberjack Days.

The two-day festivities include a street dance, kids’ games, children’s and main parades, and a pancake breakfast, and are capped off with a fireworks display over Keweenaw Bay.

It’s been going on each year since 1969, said Lumberjack Days committee president Barb McEwen. Preparations for each year’s festivals start in January.

“We have people that come home every year for it that lived here their whole lives,” she said. “They move out of town, they come back for the actual event.”

Wednesday night’s street dance and the big parade Thursday afternoon draw some of the biggest crowds. The organizers’ favorite event is the closing fireworks.

“We just enjoy our relaxation moment because we got it all pulled off,” she said.

Before the street dance, they honored the year’s Parade Grand Marshal, Mike Bianco, and this year’s Prince and Princess, Jaxon Picard and Tessa Larson.

Bianco has been a member of the L’Anse Fire Department since 1983, and served as fire chief for 15 years, stepping down in 2023. In addition to filling numerous other volunteer roles, he works at the Jacobson Funeral Home in L’Anse.

As when he won Copper Country Firefighter of the Year in 2022, it was a shock, he said.

“It’s an honor,” he said. “I was surprised when they asked me about it. There’s a lot of other people that do stuff.”

Coming out to Lumberjack Days is a yearly tradition for Bianco.

“It’s a lot of fun because you meet a lot of people that you haven’t seen in years, just the camaraderie with people,” he said. “You see family members you haven’t seen in a while. It’s just fun coming over here. We’ve been doing this for years. I didn’t know I’d be riding in the parade this year.”

Larson, who goes into the second grade this fall, called the Fourth of July one of her favorite times of year, right behind Christmas. She was surprised and “happy” when she found out she had been named princess. She likes the parade most.

Picard, who will also be a second grader, hopes to be a professional fisherman when he grows up. He said being named prince was “pretty cool.” Like the Lumberjack Days committee, his favorite part is the fireworks.

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