ESCANABA For those who may have some trouble picking out a Christmas gift for a loved one, former president of the Escanaba Fan Club Rusty Bluse says to consider something you may have passed by many times but never thought about: the granite tiles at the Escanaba athletic field.
Along the walkway and walls of the home of the Eskymos, there is a variety of tiles that range from $100 and up.
"We started this idea as a means to bring some income to help offset the cost of this project, and it has grown," said Bluse. "We started with these two walls, and we had to expand over the past four or five years or so.
The granite tiles on the wall start at $250 and go up to $5,000 depending on size, and the orange and black patio paver tiles that make up the walkway surrounding the concession stand are $100.
Bluse said that the tiles are commonly purchased for current or former athletes, or loved ones who have passed on.
"We have just about anything," he said.
Bluse added that if an order is being placed, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, the messages on the tiles have to be relatively brief in their wording; a long paragraph simply won't fit on most sizes of tile.
Also, the engraving of the tiles is done up in Republic by Pat Gingras, who provides the Fan Club with the finished products about twice a year, so he asks that interested parties have a little patience when they order them. It takes some time from when they are ordered before they become part of the wall or walkway, but customers are always happy once they see the finished product.
If interested, there are a few ways to place an order. Inside the athletic field, there is an orange mailbox that contains order forms for the tiles that can be sent through the mail. The Fan Club asks that no one leave a completed order form inside the mailbox though.
They can also contact Gary or Sherry Seehafer, treasurer of the Fan Club, at (906) 789-0832, or send order forms to the Fan Club at 3301 6th Avenue South in Escanaba.
All of the money raised from this project goes toward funding the Fan Club, whether it is for new uniforms, helmets, or other necessities.
"We're excited about the project," Bluse said. "It's turned out better than we expected. And we're very appreciative of the support that the local community gives us, and the past athletes that have gone through the high school."