Sesquicentennial Celebrated in Champion, MI
An invitation went out to surrounding communities to come and to participate in Champion's 150th Anniversary parade and ice cream social along with games for the children on Saturday, July 27, 2013, at the Berle LaPin Veteran's Memorial Park. We asked them to come.
And they did.
From the North came a family representing three generations in Champion. The youngest, Lily Simula (7), riding her own Welsh pony. Others were mounted on beautiful steeds. From the West there came a stately, spanking clean antique steam engine from Michigamme. One could just imagine smoke belching from its stack. From the East arrived a TV – 6 reporter whose station thought our township was not too insignificant to promote. Humboldt residents arrived. From the South families joined the crowd from Main Street, Beacon Hill, and Swedetown.
Just before the parade began, a chugging freight train came through town,
blocking the way then whistled on. Folks took their places readying to move out – three first-responder trucks, two cherry red fire trucks from Champion and Michigamme and an ivory EMS truck from Champion. Following the screeching sirens rode Smokey the bear with his handlers in decorated truck from Van Riper State Park. A van decorated with a forest scene – a deer atop and a kid inside throwing candy, young people on four wheelers and bicycles, several residents showed off their tractors. Two children, Hannah and Johnny Mattila, carried banner designed by local artist, Gary Hegman. The banner read Sesquicentennial 1863 – 2013 Champion Michigan. Store owners advertising their businesses, one vintage car driver and many other residents driving cars slipped into place to circle the parade route: From Railroad Street to Furnace Street to Feely to Dalaba down Black Hill Road and back to Railroad Street. Along the way townsfolk watched from porches and children ran around waving and picking up candy. While the parade finished its route, Donna Jones from Felch, MI played her accordion - “Roll out the barrel. We'll have a barrel of fun.” And we really did. Before the revelers got scoops of vanilla and chocolate ice cream along with a piece of beautifully decorated cake, Sister Margie reviewed Champion's history reminding the attendees that Champion's survival relies on togetherness. After prayers offered by Sister Margie (Sacred Heart Catholic Church) and Pastor Carole Neitzel (Our Redeemer Lutheran Church), the party began. Before cutting the cake, eighteen people who had attended the Champion Centennial Celebration gathered under the pavilion to have their picture taken. This was done next to the cake decorated with the phrase Champion 150th. Then the music continued, with Julie Williams as the vocalist, and Dave, her husband, on the guitar, singing and playing “Won't you make my brown eyes blue.”
Over all this activity the children's voices echoed hilarity. Sat-upon balloons popped and water balloons flew – all part of games enjoyed.
Thank you to the organizational committee who worked tirelessly – Bev Kleczka, Curt and Jean Bawden – to entertain over a hundred enthusiastic Yoopers.
Last, but not least, give thanks to Mother Nature. NO, make that Our Heavenly Father who parted the clouds and gave us three hours of a intermittent drizzle and dazzling sunshine.
One sobering thought in closing – How can we make our town, our country, our WORLD a better place ?