Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Northwoods winter celebrations set to begin


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Ironwood — A winter season of events is set to highlight the Upper Peninsula winters that make this region special.

“We’re hoping for Mr. Jack Frost to come and keep us cold so that the snow stays,” said Michael Meyer, director of the Ironwood Area Chamber of Commerce. “This is probably one of few places that just can’t wait until it gets cold.”

The holiday tree lighting Friday at the Historic Ironwood Depot and Museum Thursday was an early kick off to a winter season of activities running through mid January 2020. This year’s Jack Frost Festival has some surprises and will be as fun as ever, he said.

“It’s all really just a big celebration of wintertime activities,” Meyer said. “That’s really what Jack Frost is all about, a celebration of winter in the U.P.”

The origins are not exactly clear but the Jack Frost Festival has been going on for around 25 years, he said. The original vision was perhaps to drive holiday shoppers downtown, he said.

Downtowns change over 25 years, he said. The vision expanded into a way to present Ironwood during one the regions most important time of year when people come for the snow, he said.

“The whole concept expanded to kind of embrace winter,” Meyer said. “December and January are our most important months for visitors, and if there is good snow, especially.”

While other areas may not be as excited about winter, for the Jack Frost Festival events to succeed there needs to be a lot of snow for the 11th annual SISU Nordic Ski Festival scheduled for Jan. 11, starting at the ABR Ski Trails and finishing downtown, he said.

The oval track at the Gogebic County Fairgrounds needs to be frozen hard for the Pro Vintage Snowmobile Race on Dec. 28, as well as for the Snowmobile Olympus and TRL race on Jan. 4-5.

“These are high caliber races,” Meyer said.

Snowmobilers and hikers using the trails coming through town will enjoy the new holiday lighting around the Ironwood Historical Depot and Museum, along with new lighting on the park pavilion and holiday tree, he said.

“This is the centerpiece of town during the holidays,” he said. “The tree stays on all night and it will stay lit until the end of January.”

The business window holiday decorating contest applications are due at the chamber office by Dec. 2.

Events start kicking off Friday, Dec. 6, with kids Christmas cookie decorating at Ironwood Carnegie Library from 3:30 to 5 p.m. That will be followed by Frost Friday/First Friday downtown with strolling caroler groups.

“We have four groups of carolers and they will be walking downtown and singing Christmas songs,” he said.

The events at the theater will be expanded this year both Friday and Saturday with the NoEL Holiday Market from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, he said. There will be live music and craft vendors set up in the theater, he said.

“I am not sure how many vendors they have but it is substantially more than last year,” he said.

The Historic Ironwood theater will have a 7:30 p.m. screening of the 1987 holiday classic, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” starring Steve Martin and the late John Candy.

On Saturday, a reading of “The Christmas Story” will be held at 10 a.m. at Heritage Christian Book and Gifts, 610 Ayer Street. There will also be refreshments and music by the Genisot family.

The Jack Frost $10,000 raffle drawing will be held sometime between 2 and 3 p.m. at Chelsi’s Corner, 110 East Aurora St. This will be followed by a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus at River Valley Bank from 3 to 5 p.m.

At at 4:15 p.m. the Historic Ironwood Theatre will screen the 1983 version of “A Christmas Story” based on the story by Jean Shepherd and starring Peter Billingsley.

The Chamber Singers will perform Christmas concert at 7 p.m. Dec. 7, and 5 p.m. Dec. 8, at Our Lady of Peace Parish, 108 S. Marquette St.

The Carnegie Library will hold an open house with hot cider and cookies from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Dec. 7

The Northern Elves’ Santa Dash will follow down Aurora Street at 5:30 p.m., and prior to the Jack Frost Festival of Lights Parade at 6 p.m. The Gogebic Range Concert Band performs after the parade in the Historic Ironwood Theatre at approximately 7:15 p.m.

The Jack Frost Parade starts at 6 p.m., on Saturday, Dec. 7. It will start downtown at the Ironwood Carnegie Library. The deadline for parade entries is Monday, Dec. 2, he said.

“The real thing is lining everybody up and making sure we have space for everyone,” Meyer said. “At that point we will know who’s all there and the order of the parade and the judging committee.”

“We had 33 units in the parade last year and we hope to get to 35 this year,” he said. “The weather looks good with the long range forecasts.”

The Luther L. Wright High School Band will be performing from the back of a flatbed along with their choir in the parade, he said. It’s a 45 minute parade and if people get cold they can always enter the businesses that will be open late down, he said.

The following weekend the Historic Ironwood Theatre Christmas Show will be held at 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15.

Big Top Chautauqua’s Blue Canvas Orchestra Christmas will be held 4 p.m. Dec. 22, at the Historic Ironwood Theatre.

“That is a pretty famous group,” Meyer said.

The Copper Box Concert at the Historic Ironwood Theatre is scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 11.

The season of celebration concludes with the “Light Up The Night” Christmas tree burning event at Norrie Amateur Sports Club, 7 p.m. Jan. 25.