Jim Koski's 107 THINGS TO LOVE ABOUT MARQUETTE COUNTY
As promised, here we go--the FOURTH edition of “107 Things To Love About Marquette County”!
But a word or two before we begin. As with every edition of this list, every item on here is SUBJECTIVE. It speaks to who I am, what I do, and where I go. Most of the items on the list are from Marquette; that’s only because that where I spend most of MY time. There are going to be many things left off that YOU would put on a list like this, and some things that will just make you shake your head and go “huh?” when you read them. That’s fine; it is, after all, a list of 107 things that I love about living here. Your list should be different.
In fact, I’m counting on your list being different. That’s why I wanna hear from YOU about any item, person, or thing that should’ve been on the list that I, for whatever reason, left off. I have a feeling that you’ll contribute more than enough to populate an entire second list!
I’ll be listing things not in order, but by category. This is not intended to be a countdown leading up to the “best” thing about the Marquette area; after all, is there really a BEST upon which we can all agree? And the items on the list won’t be numbered. Instead, they’ll be capitalized. That’s how you’ll know what they are.
Like I said before, comments are more than welcomed. Actually, they’re required, because it’s always you guys who got me off of my aforementioned duff and made me write the newest version of this.
107 THINGS TO LOVE ABOUT MARQUETTE COUNTY, Natural & Community Wonders.
I mean, do you know just how lucky we are to have what we have, and right outside our back door? It’s what draws people here to visit in the first place, and it’s what draws many of us who’ve left Marquette to come back, even if it DOES lead to some wind chill-induced cool spring days!
LOWER HARBOR PARK--Whenever I tell someone who doesn’t know what used to sit on that land before it became one of the crown jewels of the Marquette park system (an old coal yard, if you're curious), they’re amazed by the transformation. Besides, can you imagine life without all the activities that go on there, everything from food fests to Frisbee playing? Neither can I.
The other crown jewel in Marquette’s park system. I don’t even know where to begin talking about the park itself, so just let me say this—of all the things we need to thank Peter White for doing over 100 years ago, this may be the biggest.
PARK CEMETERY—Of course, this may give Presque Isle a run for its money in the “thanking Peter White sweepstakes”. Now, I may be a bit prejudiced in this matter, seeing as how much time I spend in the cemetery, but how can you honestly NOT think that this may be one of the most beautiful (and peaceful) places you’ll ever come across?
SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN—Think about it. When you have company come and visit you, company who’s never before been to Marquette, where’s the one place you take them AFTER taking them to Presque Isle? Yup..you climb Sugarloaf, don’t you?
MOUNT MARQUETTE—Yet while the view from Sugarloaf is amazing in its view of nature, I personally don’t think ANY local mountaintop view can beat THIS—
Although it looks pretty impressive from Mount Marquette, it’s not until you walk up and down Front Street that the history of Marquette hits you. I’ll get into a few more specifics as this list wears on, but if there’s indeed an epicenter to the entire U.P., this may be it.
THE (OLD) COAST GUARD STATION—I’ve written blogs about this before, and I’ll put forward the thought again. Can you think of ANYTHING in the U.P. that is painted, photographed, sketched, drawn, and doodled about more than this?
THE BIKE PATH SYSTEM—Yeah, I know Marquette’s one of the top 5 places in the country to go mountain biking, but what if you just wanna go for a ride in the fresh air, gazing at some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet? That’s what these 12+ miles of paved trails are for! In fact, the stretch between downtown & McClellan, the one that comes out near McDonald's, may be one of my favorite places to bike or walk on a warm summer day!
MCCARTY’S COVE—Sure, it’s one of those places I visit when I play hooky on those aforementioned warm, summer days. But I do so for a reason. . .I’ve often thought that the stretch of beach between McCarty’s Cove and Shiras Park may be one of the finest stretches of cold water beaches ANYWHERE. Can you imagine how packed it would be if it were in Florida?
THE DOWNTOWN FARMER'S MARKET—It blows my mind to think that we didn't have this weekend gem in the city up until a few years ago; now, I can't even imagine a Saturday without it. From farm-fresh produce to the best home-made sticky buns in the world (just to name a few), it's one place we always make sure we stop!
One of the things that we are so fortunate to have in this area is a sense of history; a sense of why we became the area we eventually became. We have people and groups dedicated to preserving this story and, because of that, we live among marvels like the following--
How many of you know that this rock, now a nesting place for seagulls, was an important piece of land for the first non-native settlers of the area? Ships used to anchor to the rock, throw supplies (and livestock) overboard, and then bring them to shore. Before ore docks, there was Ripley’s Rock.
Then after Ripley’s Rock, there were indeed ore docks. In fact, at one time, over a dozen of them graced both Marquette harbors. And while only one of them is still functional, they serve as a vital reminder of the area’s past. After all, Marquette came into existence because iron miners needed a place from which to ship their ore. Without ore docks, there never would’ve been a Marquette.
THE MARQUETTE COUNTY COURTHOUSE--
Where else might you find a 111-year old building that’s still used for its original purpose (a courthouse and county offices), but has also doubled as a movie set, an architectural temple, and as a place where some of us get married? Not many!
PETER WHITE PUBLIC LIBRARY--
Yesterday, we talked about a couple of the civic projects behind which the spirit of Mr. White lurks. Here’s another; like the Courthouse, it’s 111 years old, and like the Courthouse, it’s still used for its original purpose. The two year-long renovation of a decade and a half ago was certainly worth it, as well.
FIRST NATIONAL BANK--
Okay, it’s now known as Wells Fargo, but for a lot of us, it will also be the First National Bank building. When Louis Kaufman built it in 1927, it was, per square foot, the most expensive construction project in the country. If you’ve never been inside it, do yourself a favor, walk in the lobby, and just stare at the ceiling. You’ll be amazed.
Right before he built the First National Bank building, Louis Kaufman threw his muscle behind construction of a new high school, named after his mother’s family. Over the years, it’s been a high school, a middle school, an intermediate school, and now an elementary school, but after almost 90 years, it’s still going strong. Let’s hope it continues for another 90!
Where did people like Peter White and Louis Kaufman live? In Marquette’s historic East Side, where a stroll up & down the streets reveal some of the most amazing houses built in the last 130 years.
THE OLD ORPHANAGE--
This may be the one historic building that’s not yet been returned to its former glory. It’s been tied up in legal proceedings for as long as I can remember, but plans are now afoot to renovate it and turn it into a housing complex. Let’s hope it works out!
FATHER MARQUETTE STATUE--
When this was erected in the late 1800s, it was actually down by the Maritime Museum; now sitting in Lakeside Park, it allows the city’s namesake to overlook his domain. There is supposedly another version of this statue sitting outside what translates to the Father Marquette Middle School in Post-a-Mousson, France, where he studied as a young Jesuit, but the school was under renovation when I visited last year and couldn't confirm it. I'll see if I can get someone in the town's tourist office to snap me a picture to share!
The next picture actually takes care of two items at once. First, THE LANDMARK INN--Over the last couple of decades, many of Marquette historic buildings were falling into disrepair. Fortunately, most of them have been restored to their former glory; in the case of the Landmark, Christine Pesola went waaaaaaay past what the old Northland Hotel once was, turning it into an amazing place to stay, eat, and gather.
Finally, helping preserve all this history, not just in Marquette but around the county, are many local groups, including the MARQUETTE REGIONAL HISTORY CENTER (the dome of which is in the picture above), NEGAUNEE HISTORICAL SOCIETY, and the REPUBLIC HISTORICAL SOCIETY. I mention these three because, in order, I’m a board member, they’ve been helpful in providing all kinds of information, and they’re some of the nicest (and most dedicated) people I’ve met. If you’ve not visited any of their museums, do so, and see for yourself!
Now, if you know me at all, you know I’m not the stereotypical Yooper. I don’t like to camp, I don’t hunt, and, if truth be told, I’m more comfortable around concrete than I am wild animals. But that still doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate what we have around here; in fact, I ‘m willing to forego concrete just to have the chance to enjoy these wonders of our environment.
JULY, AND AUGUST--Whenever someone asks me why I want to stay in Marquette, living through endless months of snow and cold, I always reply with those two words. During July and August (well, most Julys and Augusts) I can’t think of a more pleasant, enjoyable, and beautiful place on the face of the Earth. It makes living through the snow and the cold worth it.
BIG BAY, AND THE DRIVE THERE--Depending upon which season you drive there, you get awesome views of green, or of white, or of red, or, if it’s spring, dirt. But it’s always an awesome view heading up there, and once you’re in Big Bay, it’s a fun little place to explore (like, in fact, a lot of SMALL TOWNS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTY).
COUNTY ROAD 492--Two things about the back road between Marquette and Negaunee have always appealed to me--the fact that it’s a FUN bike ride, and the fact that, during the fall, it’s one of the best places in the area to see amazing fall colors. (The highway center line was also invented by K.I. Sawyer for this road; that’s just a bonus, I guess).
Okay, I’ve mentioned FALL COLORS twice so far, so I’m guessing they better make this list, too!
FOG--As far as I can tell, there are very few drawbacks about living next to Lake Superior. One of those is that the lake can keep us quite cool during the spring and summer. But an offshoot of that, when warm ground air meets cool lake air, allows us to see things like this--
THE FIT STRIP--Ever since I moved back to Marquette over 25 years ago, I’ve used this one-mile trail for everything from running to skiing. The fact that it sits right smack-dab in the middle of the city is amazing; the fact that it’s also home to everything from raccoon to deer is even more amazing!
BLUEBERRY RIDGE--When I’m looking for a longer ski than a few laps around the Fit Strip, this is where I go. There’s just something about these trails that always puts me in a great mood. For others, though, the NOQUEMANON TRAIL NETWORK does the same. You can’t go wrong with either!
The IRON ORE HERITAGE TRAIL—Perhaps the newest thing on this list, and a trail many area residents don't even know about. But running from Republic all the way down to Harvey, it's a great way to run/walk/bike/snowmobile/whatever(depending upon which section of the trail you use) over part of Marquette County history.
HILLS--When I first put this list together back in 2000, I left these off the list, and boy, did I hear about it! Until you’ve lived somewhere flat, you really don’t appreciate having a little variety in your terrain. You really don’t!
DUCKS--I’m not talking about the geese that seem to pop up everywhere, leaving their calling cards wherever they go. I’m talking about these cute little things
that make their home at places like Park Cemetery or on Lake Superior. Just seeing a mom duck and her brood waddling around is enough to melt even the hardest of non-nature loving hearts.
Trust me on that one!
MY FAMILY--I’m incredibly lucky, in that I get to live in the same area as my mom & dad, Melanie and Marc, Courtney, Mallory and Sydney, (a.k.a. my sister and brother, and my nieces and nephews), as well as any other people who share a snippet of DNA. How many of us can say that?
MY FRIENDS--I’m incredibly lucky again, because Marquette County’s also home to people like Roxanne & Tom, and Justine & Scott, and Chris, and Luanne & Kevin, and Joe & Karen, and a whole slew of others. But I do hafta single one of them out...
DEANNA--Many of you know of her from her days at TV-6, but trust me. . .that’s nothing. Every day, there’s something new with her, and every day, I look forward to hearing what it is!
CO-WORKERS--Speaking of co-workers, over the past 25 years it’s gotten quite huge. And while I don’t even probably remember all of them, they certainly have made Marquette County a special place for me, at least.
MY “other” CO-WORKERS, this time at Public TV 13. When I stepped in to start hosting a show that they've been doing for 36 years before me, they both made it easy for me and made me feel like part of the family. So thanks!
The PEOPLE WHO PUT EVENTS TOGETHER-One of the things you quickly learn about Marquette County is that there is always something going on, and each and every one of those somethings has to be planned and carried through. So the next time you're at anything from a food festival to an art show to a bike race, seek out those responsible for it, and thank them for all of their hard work. They really deserve it!
The AMERICAN EAGLE GATE AGENTS AT SAWYER INTERNATIONAL. You know, I’m guessing that theirs is a mostly thankless job, but every time I fly somewhere, they always ask where I’m going, in a fun manner and like they’re genuinely curious. And what’s more amazing is that they often remember where I flew the previous time, and ask how THAT trip went.
Everyone who works at THE U.P. REGIONAL BLOOD CENTER deserves to be on here, too. I know I may be a bit biased (because, as you know, I do a lot of work with them) but they’re very good at what’s a very hard job--trying to convince people to get stuck by a needle and give up some of their body fluids. I know I wouldn’t be that successful at it.
PHIL NEIMISTO--Anyone who’s walked through downtown Marquette knows about Phil & his Pocket Pock flowers, and his incredible window washing skills. He’s just one of those people who make Marquette Marquette, you know?
CAROL PAPALEO--One of my favorite local artists, if only because that’s what she is--an artist who paints local scenes (her downtown sandstone series being one of my favorite). There aren’t a lot of artists from whom I buy originals. . .she’s definitely one of them!
JACK DEO--I’ve often joked that Jack was my “dealer”, because I’m addicted to the enormity of his collection of historic photographs of Marquette. Not only that, he’s a fun guy to host a history program with, as well (hint hint—another big one's on the way in January 2016!). Throw in all he does for the Marquette arts community, and you see why he’s on the list!
THE PEOPLE OF SOUTH MARQUETTE. Even though my dad was born there, I never spent much time in that particular part of the city. But since I’ve started giving tours of it, I’ve discovered an amazing fact--in an entire city of incredibly friendly people, the residents of south Marquette may be the friendliest. I don’t think I’ve ever gone for a walk around Division or Jackson or Blemhuber and not been stopped by people wanting to chat (or to just say “hi”). You can’t beat that!
Speaking of people, the PEOPLE OF REPUBLIC deserve a special mention here. Over the past decade my (much) better half has been “adopted” by the town, and every time we go out there we're treated like members of the “family”. Plus, we've learned one very important thing about the town, and I quote one of our friends out there--”If you leave Republic hungry, it's your own fault”! And trust me—we've never left there hungry!
NMU STUDENTS--After all, without NMU students, we wouldn’t get to see things like this!
I may joke about NMU students and their fondness for parties, but they are for the most part a great group of people, especially for those who are a part of THE NMU VOLUNTEER CENTER. They devote an extraordinary amount of time into making Marquette a great place to live, and really don’t get a lot of credit for it. Here’s my way of correcting that injustice!
Speaking of which, ANYONE who volunteers for any service project or non-profit agency deserves to be on this list, as well. And you know what? Now you are!
Finally, I’ve saved the best for last--LORAINE.
Sure, she wasn’t born here, but with the way she’s woven herself into things around here, you’d never know! I can’t imagine what my life would’ve been without her, and I can only imagine what kind of adventures we’ll get into together in the future! Besides, she’s managed not to throttle me even once in all the years we’ve been together, and that’s gotta count for SOMETHING, right?
Now, are you hungry?
THE PORTSIDE has become, I believe, one of my favorite Marquette restaurants. The food is great, the people are great, and the pictures on the wall are great. What more could you ask from a restaurant?
Right down the street from the Portside, BABYCAKES has the perfect thing for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. It’s their sour-cream chocolate chip muffin, and while I’m sure it causes you to add two pounds and shoot your cholesterol level up 20 points just by looking at it, it’s that’s good. If you haven’t tried it, try it!
Speaking of something you really have to try, Negaunee’s MIDTOWN BAKERY makes these chocolate-oatmeal cookies with just a hint of orange flavor to them. When we’re exploring parts of the West End, Loraine and I always stop there for lunch, and get a bunch of the cookies to go with us. After all, you never know when you’ll need a quick fix, right?
CAL’S PARTY STORE--Speaking of cookies, the ones they sell at Cal’s are not only yummy, but they’re also the size of a Frisbee (and no, I’m not kidding!) Ever since I’ve discovered those cookies, I’ve developed a new favorite summer pastime--buying one of them, and then burning off the calories while walking around Marquette. Sure, I may have to spend several hours walking around Marquette to burn off said calories, but what’s wrong with that?
Now, lest you get the idea that all I eat is cookies (and muffins, and chocolate), rest assured that’s not true. Why, aside from getting great ice cream and, uhm, chocolate, you can also enjoy real food at places like DONCKERS. In fact, I think the best macaroni and cheese on the planet is available there. If you haven’t tried it yet, you really owe it to yourself to do so. After all, when was the last time you had mac & cheese with several different kinds of cheeses, including Gouda?
If you’re ever in the mood for something with a south-of-the-border flair, stop by SOL AZTECTA. True story—Loraine & I were their first ever paying customers; in fact, we signed their first dollar for them. But we keep going back & back (& back) because the food is awesome.
I think my favorite breakfast in Marquette may be the SWEETWATER CAFÉ’s French toast. I get it made with whole wheat bread, and when you combine it with U.P.-produced maple syrup, the whole thing just kinda transports your mouth to a tasty heaven.
Let's not forget THE NEW YORK DELI; specifically, let's not forget the Cuban sandwiches they sell on occasion. I'm actually thinking it's a good thing they're not on their permanent menu; if that were the case, I'm guessing I could be quite a bit heavier than I am now!
Speaking of which (weighing more than I do now) it's a good thing I don't visit GOPHER'S everyday. And that's all I'm gonna say about that!
Finally, I don’t go to JEAN KAY’S for the reason you think. I know the rest of you go there for pasties (and they are good), but Jean Kay’s is another one of those places I like to visit on those summer walks. They have these really simple chocolate-covered rice krispie bars that, for some reason, just seem to hit the spot when you’re out in the sun. Yum.
I go to THE MARQUETTE FOOD CO-OP quite a bit because I only work a few blocks from it, but you know what? I’d go there even if I worked miles away. The selection’s great, the people are even greater, and you’re constantly amazed by what you can find there, especially since they opened their new, expanded store last year.
The same goes for the really fresh (mostly grown in Michigan) produce at FARMER Q’S. And now that they, like the Co-op, are open in a new, bigger location, it’s even better!
I think that we as an area are incredibly lucky to have a place like JILBERT DAIRY here. I mean, they deserve a place on this list for no other reason than their Amaretto-Cherry Mackinaw Island Fudge ice cream, doncha think?
Last week when I mentioned the Farmer's Market I purposely left off something I get there every week because I wanted to mention it here—DAVIN'S CHOCOLATES. Davin Makela is a Marquette resident who makes his own chocolate, grinding his own beans, adding whatever flavors need to get added, and then tempering it before he sells it at the market, and take it from someone who's eaten his fair share of chocolate—Davin knows what he's doing. Rush down there and find out for yourself!
GETZ’S is a throwback (in the best possible way) to department stores of old, when friendly people sold stuff they actually knew about. It’s my one-stop shop for Levi’s, if nothing else!
Believe it or not, I’ve never actually purchased anything at THILL’S FISHHOUSE, but here’s why it makes the list--every time my in-laws visit from downstate, the last place they visit in Marquette is Thill’s, where my father-in-law stocks a cooler full of Lake Superior whitefish. That, I believe, says it all.
'WORD ON THE STREET” is not an actual physical business you can visit; instead, it's a blog about what's going on and about to go on in Marquette. It's written by Brian Cabell, who I used to watch on CNN Headline News (back when there WAS a CNN Headline News”, so he knows his stuff and how to report it. In fact, you'll find stories on the blog days (or weeks) before anywhere else. If you haven't read it yet, do so at www.briancabell.com. You'll keep going back again and again!
SNOWBOUND BOOKS is a place where you can find yourself lost for hours just browsing every little thing on the shelves. Don’t believe me? Try going in there without a watch or without looking at a clock. You’ll see I’m right.
Speaking (in a way) of books, GLOBE PRINTING did an amazing job with the two BOOKS Loraine has (so far) written. They have an incredibly talented and hard working staff, and you get a bonus when you go into their shop—the “Anatomy of a Murder” wall. Yes, I may be a history and movie geek, but I get lost in my own little world just looking around there.
Every neighborhood in Marquette has its own little party store. In my neighborhood, it’s THE SPOT. Need something on the spur of the moment? It’s there; in fact, I’m amazed that they can stock so many different things into a place that’s so small. Every time I go in I look for the mirrors and the hidden rooms. Haven’t found ‘em yet, though. Plus, I like their street signs--
If you ever find yourself lacking a unique gift for someone who already has everything, just go to A TOUCH OF FINLAND, and you’ll find what you’re looking for. I can’t tell you the number of times that store’s saved my behind in that regard.
Finally, I really DO need to include the fine people at IRON BAY COMPUTER & DESIGN. After all, without them, you wouldn’t be reading this!
Now, a few things that are uniquely “Marquette”:
Things that are uniquely “Marquette”. . .
There are very few places in the country where you can find sandstone architecture still standing. The fact that we have so many of these buildings still around (and in use) is amazing.
ARTSY PEOPLE--This may be one of those things you don’t even think of, but it’s true. I think Marquette may have more artists, musicians, writers, and “interesting” individuals per capita than any other community of its size. Probably why, among the many honors the city’s received over the last decade, it’s been named as one of the “Top 100 Art Cities In The U.S.”. And I’m not just talking about “professional” artists; I think almost everyone here has that vibe to them in one way or another. How else could you explain this?
Yup, you got it right. It’s a flower bed.
See what I mean?
And as a very important subset of the above category, let’s add MUSICAL PEOPLE to this list. When you think of the amazing amount of musical talent we have around here, from home-grown to recently arrived, it just makes your just drop. It really does.
NEW YEAR’S EVE BALL DROP--
I’ll often refer to it as a big party with me and a few thousand of my closest drunk friends, but it is a destination every December 31st. And thankfully, every year when it seems like it may be discontinued, someone steps up to help out. Here’s to hoping we’ll keep seeing the ball drop for years to come!
THE NOQUEMANON--In the last 16 years, this has become one of the pre-eminent cross country ski races in the country, and for good reason. Over 1,000 people take part every year over one of the most beautiful courses is the U.S. Oh, and they get to hear one darn fine finish line announcer, too.
ORE TO SHORE--In the past 10 or 12 , this has become one of the premiere bike race weekends in the country, and, like the Noque, for good reason. The mass starts in Negaunee are jaw-dropping, and the scenery through which the riders ride is spectacular. Oh, and I hear THAT race has one darn fine finish line announcer, too!
THE U.P. 200--What the Noque is for cross country skiing and the Ore to Shore is for biking, the U.P. 200 is for sled dog racing. If you’ve never stood on Washington Street in Marquette at least once as the dogs take off, I don’t know that you can consider yourself a true Yooper!
GLACIER GLIDE--Every year, this is one of the many events that takes place during the U.P. 200 weekend, and it’s probably the most unique. Art is spread out around Presque Isle, and you get to walk, snowshoe, or ski around the Island to look at it. Okay, you can stop laughing now. . .it’s actually a blast, and that’s coming from someone who, as you may recall, really doesn’t like winter!!
ART ON THE ROCKS--However, if you wanna see art outdoors in slightly more temperate conditions, THIS is the art show for you. And since they moved the show to another of the 107 Things to Love About Marquette County, Lower Harbor Park, you can just walk to the show!
THE ROUNDABOUT—Oh, I know our roundabout gets ragged on by people who are afraid of it, and it's not a true roundabout in the European sense, but I like it. I think it's cool. And seeing as how it's about to be joined by another just down the bypass in Marquette, and a couple out in Ishpeming, pretty soon Marquette County could be renamed Roundabout County!
FOOD FESTS--It could be the INTERNATIONAL FOOD FEST or the BEER FEST in Marquette, or the ITALIAN FEST in Ishpeming, but these are weekends that draw thousands of people and raise thousands of dollars for charity. You can’t go wrong with those, can you?
PETUNIA PANDEMONEUM--Every May, hundreds of volunteers gather in Marquette, and line the US-41 corridor into the city with thousands of blooming flowers, which then greet visitors throughout the summer. You know how they say first impressions are the ones that count? Those flowers make a heck of a first impression!
THE SUPERIOR DOME--
We also have the world’s largest wooden domed stadium in our backyard. I don’t know about you, but I’m having trouble believing it’s been over 25 years since construction started on it. We’ve been using the Dome for over 25 years now!!
Here are a few non-physical items to add to the “Uniquely Marquette” portion of the list. The first? The fact that PEOPLE START WEARING SHORTS WHEN THE TEMPERATURE FINALLY GETS ABOVE FREEZING. People never believe me when I tell ‘em it’s true, but you know it is. After a long & cold winter, when do you start seeing people wear shorts? The first day it gets above freezing. Some people, in fact, don’t stop wearing them until it hits freezing again in September or October. How many other communities are as hardy as that?
Speaking of weather-related activities, how about a SOUTHWEST SUMMER WIND in the city of Marquette. You know those winds, right, the ones that down-slope off the hills and cause the city to be 10 or 15 sweltering degrees warmer than the rest of the county? We only get them a few days of the year, but in all honesty, those are my favorite days of the year.
Finally, there’s one more thing to add to this part of the list, and, I hafta admit, there’s a bit of personal preference here. I hafta add the VIEW YOU GET FROM M-28 as you’re driving into Marquette from the east. There’s that moment, right as you clear the trees and get to the two beach turn-offs, when you actually see the entire city of Marquette before you. When I lived downstate and was driving back, that was always the moment I knew I was HOME, especially at night, when you could see the entire city lit up in the distance.
If that view ever fails to move something in my heart, I plan on checking my pulse. . .stat!!
The Ishpeming and Marquette FOURTH OF JULY PARADES. I’ve done these for oh, I dunno, almost 20 years now, and I hafta admit that it’s one of my favorite days of the year. There’s no rush quite the like one you get when you walk down a streets and see hundreds of people holding up signs with your name on them. It’s really amazing!
FALL FEST, NMU’s annual way of welcoming students back to Marquette for the start of the school year. Like parades on the 4th, I’ve been doing Fall Fest forever, and if for some reason I don’t get to (I’ve only missed two or three since the early 90s) my entire September just doesn’t feel right.
BIG SHAG LAKE--when I was a kid, I spent big chunks of my summers there, at my grandparents’ camp. And while I haven’t been out there for a while now, that lake will always hold a very special place in my heart.
URBAN RENEWAL--When I redid this list the first time a couple of years ago, I asked blog readers if there was anything I should stick in it. Well, one of the responses I received was from someone who left Marquette for a home elsewhere in the U.P., and wrote that he missed the constant sense of change and “growth” in Marquette. Where he lives, things just get shuttered up or torn down when they close. In Marquette, buildings and ideas get reused, and what emerges is usually stronger than it was before. As he put it, there’s “still a sense of hope in Marquette”. And we’re fortunate that there is.
And in that same vein, I also have to include the fact that recently Marquette County has seemed to have adopted a slogan along the lines of “WE DO BIG THINGS”. Think of it--in the past year, we’ve had everything from dozens of civic awards to celebrities coming to play golf for charity, and from visits from two Presidents to TV shows shooting in the city.
Not many communities our size can make that claim!
The RANGE BANK PARKING DECK--Because I work right across the street from it, because my dead wife works there, and because I sometimes use downtown Marquette as my own personal jungle gym, I often find myself standing on the top of the deck, either cooling down after a workout or finding myself in a very zen-like state of calm, thanks to the view you get from there. You know...views like this--
The LILACS AT LAKESIDE PARK--you know how much I like lilacs, right? Well, I think the best concentration of them is in this small park, right next to the Lake Superior Community Partnership offices. Just walk over there in late May or early June, standing the middle of all the bushes, and inhale deeply. If that’s not heaven on Earth, I don’t know what is!
WILLIAMS PARK--Speaking of Marquette parks, I like this one because, for a decade and a half now, it’s been my “neighborhood” park. Yet so few people know about, despite the fact it has tennis and basketball courts, a playground, and a terraced stone garden dating back to the Depression. If you’ve never been there, go, and just take a look. You can thank me later.
The 400 BLOCK OF HIGH STREET in Marquette. For seven years of that decade-plus I just mentioned, this was where I lived, and I hafta admit I still miss it a little. The people who lived around us were some of the friendliest I’ve ever met, people with whom we still keep in touch. Everyone deserves to have neighbors like that!
LITTLE, SEEMINGLY HIDDEN STREETS IN MARQUETTE like Mather, or Chamberlain, or Fitch, or Blemhuber, streets you can explore at your leisure with a little stroll, streets that have their own histories and their own interesting stories to tell.
Heck, I also need to add the fact that you can WALK AROUND MARQUETTE whenever and wherever you want, see so many things, do so many activities, and meet so many friendly people. There aren’t a lot of places where you can do that; we’re very lucky in that regard.
Speaking of FRIENDLY, GREAT PEOPLE, that’s another thing we have in abundance in Marquette County. You’ll always hear visitors to the area say “everyone’s so friendly up here”, and it’s true. And it’s not just visitors who feel like that; in the last few years, I can’t count the number of people Loraine and I have met, people who’ve shared their stories and their recollections and their time with us. Without people that like, she wouldn’t know what she does about World War II, and I wouldn’t know all those interesting little historic facts about the area that I keep sprouting off. So we can both attest to what visitors to the area already know--you guys rock!
Finally, speaking of you guys, I wrap up the list of “107 Things To Love About Marquette County” with this item--
YOU. After all, without the thousands of listeners and blog readers who show up every day, my life would be a whole lot different than it is now. So thanks for everything!