Civic center celebrates 50th anniversary

Jordan Beck | Daily Press Escanaba Upper Elementary School fifth-grade students Xander Blomstrom, left, and Patrick Gentry face off in a round of air hockey in the Catherine Bonifas Civic Center’s game room Monday.

ESCANABA — The Catherine Bonifas Civic Center celebrated both its 50th anniversary and the start of another year of the after-school program with an open house event Monday afternoon.

“We invited the public… to come in and take a tour of our facility and see what we’re all about,” Escanaba Recreation Director Kim Peterson said. Cake and refreshments were served at the event.

Since it was established in 1967, the civic center has been named in honor of local philanthropist Catherine Bonifas — the wife of William Bonifas, who Escanaba’s William Bonifas Fine Arts Center is named after.

Several changes have come to the civic center over its five decades of history. One of the most substantial changes was the addition of the Menominee-Delta-Schoolcraft Community Action Agency’s Escanaba Senior Center approximately 15 years ago.

“The senior center actually rents out half of the building,” Peterson said. There, seniors in the area are offered meals, Medicare and Medicaid assistance, activities, and more.

Peterson also highlighted the introduction of the civic center’s youth and teen after-school program several years ago.

“Now, we have a safe, supervised environment for kids to come (to) after school,” she said.

This program, which Peterson said has been running for about two decades, allows students in grades fourth through 12th to enjoy a wide variety of activities at the civic center at no cost.

“They can come in, have a snack, play in the gym, (and) utilize the game room,” she said. School supplies were also offered to students visiting the civic center for this program Monday.

Breanna Morrison, an eighth-grade student at Escanaba Junior High School, said she likes this program.

“It’s fun — I get to see my friends here after school a lot,” she said.

Escanaba city officials came to the Catherine Bonifas Civic Center for the open house event, as well. Mayor Marc Tall said the facility plays a significant role in the city.

“The civic center has proven to be an important part of our community,” he said.

City Manager Patrick Jordan agreed.

“This is a great facility — a huge asset to the community,” he said.

Recreation programs offered at the civic center include men’s basketball, women’s volleyball, aerobics, pickleball, and more. Escanaba resident Kathy Grill, who was at the civic center to play volleyball Monday, said she enjoyed visiting this event while she was there.

“The snacks are great — it gives us something to munch on between our games,” she said.

In addition to this, Grill expressed her appreciation for the civic center’s staff.

“They’re very accommodating,” she said.

Vicky Elie, an Escanaba resident who attends line-dancing classes at the civic center, was also happy to be able to attend the event.

“(It’s) very nice — congratulations to Escanaba for this building,” she said.

During the fall and winter months, the Catherine Bonifas Civic Center will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday. For more information, visit