Jim Koski's 107 Reasons
09/03/2015 10:08:26 AM
THINGS TO LOVE ABOUT MARQUETTE COUNTY
here we go--the FOURTH edition of “107 Things To Love About
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!