The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Snowshoeing through drizzle for cause

 

January 2, 2020

Tom LaVenture/Daily Globe

A group snowshoes their way through Miners Memorial Heritage Park on Saturday evening, one of many using headlamps or flashlights while braving freezing drizzle to take part in the annual fundraiser with donations going to support maintenance of the Ironwood park.

By TOM LAVENTURE

tlaventure@yourdailyglobe.com

Ironwood - With temperatures hovering around freezing and a cold drizzle coming down, people still showed up for the annual fundraising event Saturday evening at Miners Memorial Heritage Park.

The annual Candlelight Snowshoe and Ski fundraiser is meant to have families navigate a one-mile course through the park that is lighted by candlelit bags. With the cold drizzle coming down it didn't look promising for a crowd but groups of people were still shoeing through at the start of the two-hour evening event.

"We usually have about 250 to 300 people come through," said Carol Erickson, volunteer and board member of Friends of Miners Memorial Heritage Park. "I have my finger's crossed."

Although she didn't expect those kinds of numbers in this weather, she said it warmed her heart to see the steady stream of people. It might be a year when more people are inside the bus garage adjacent to the trailhead for the coffee, cider, tea, hot chocolate and homemade cookies than out on the trail, she said.

But people came because they use the trails, enjoy the park and want to do their part to help, she said.

"It is our principal fundraiser for the year and is what gives us our operating costs for grooming the trails, for keeping the snowshoe trails open during the summer, and it pays for gasoline and maintenance on our equipment," Erickson, said.

Larry Grimsby, of Erwin Township, said his group of nine children and grandchildren come from all over each year for the event that is tied with the holidays. One daughter comes with her two sons from Menasha, Wisconsin and his youngest daughter comes from Saxon.

"We just use this as one of our main holiday event each year, we really enjoy it," Grimsby said. "We usually do the one-mile route. We all go together and the daughters coordinate it all with the smart phones."

Samantha Stoeber, from Chicago, was out on the trail snowshoeing using the borrowed snowshoes from the park. She said her family was up skiing Indianhead Mountain while visiting an uncle who recently moved to Wakefield.

"It's my first time here," Stoeber said.

Sharlene Schaffer, a volunteer and board member of Friends of Miners Memorial Heritage Park, said people come to the event because they enjoy a city park with solitude. People enjoy the silence of the park, she said.

"It's just wonderful to get out in the evening and the silence of winter," Schaffer said.

Jim Decur, Paul Kostelnik, Morgan Grasso, Ivan Hellen and Troy Laguna were the five park volunteers who set up the mile of candlelit bags on the snowshoe course in icy drizzle. They warmed up inside the bus garage and set up a bonfire outside.

"It's not easy lighting candles in the rain," Hellen said. "The bags get wet and don't want to stand up."

The group said the previous year's event was extremely cold and they had problems getting the lighters to spark. They pointed to battery operated lanterns and said they would like to use 300 of those to line the trail next year.

 
 

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