Local support for Heikinpaiva

Hats Off

To the editor:

With the Polar Vortex looming, we members of the city of Hancock’s Finnish Theme Committee had doubts whether the bear would be willing to roll over late last month to mark the midpoint of winter as we celebrated Heikinpaiva. But, our fears were allayed when thousands of folks came out on a bitterly cold weekend to celebrate Finnish culture, thumb their noses at winter, and generate enough joyful noise that the bear rolled over many times.

And celebrate we did! A month’s worth of activity culminated on January 26. On behalf of our entire committee, I’d like to publicly thank everyone who made Heikinpaiva 2019 great.

Several events were part of the Finnish American Folk School, hosted by the Finnish American Heritage Center at Finlandia University. Our festival wouldn’t be possible without the Heritage Center and its staff.

Some people traveled great distances to be part of the fun, perhaps none further than Antti Patsi, who came from northern Finland to share expertise in reindeer herding. Antti wasn’t the only reindeer-oriented participant. Sam Militello and colleagues came from St. Clair, Michigan to be part of our festival. We’re grateful they made our festival a priority, and we’re also thankful to Stacy Haughey and Terry Minzey of the Michigan DNR, and Jeff Ratcliffe of KEDA, who participated in the reindeer viability forum. We’re also grateful for many others who went the “extra mile,” literally and figuratively, to make our 20th anniversary Heikinpaiva great. They include:

Finlandia University’s baseball team, the Finlandia maintenance crew and the city of Hancock DPW for making our festival sites ready; Severi Haataja for revitalizing the world’s largest kicksled; Sandra and Martin Johnson for fabulous woodwork donations; Alice Margerum for designing the Heikinpaiva poster; Zion Lutheran Church; the bands FinnFolk and Laulu Aika; Mary Pekkala, John Niska and John and Pauline Kiltinen for supporting bringing reindeer to the festival; Todd Van Dyke of Houghton Community Broadcasting for excellent PA work; all of the local media who shared their pages and air time; Risto’s Hardware for hosting the Finnish-style boat; and the many businesses who sponsored ads, decorated storefronts, or other expressions of support.

To host Heikinpaiva requires a full community effort, and we are blessed with a strong, supportive community. We’ve enjoyed celebrating Heikinpaiva with you — and we surely couldn’t do it without you!

David Maki

Dollar Bay