ESCANABA - Fifty years ago, 15-year-old Ward Zeno and a friend made a bicycle trip around Lake Michigan to promote Escanaba's Centennial celebration at radio stations and newspapers along the way. Zeno's taking a much easier route to advertise the city's upcoming 150th celebration - he's sporting a $3 booster button.
Zeno was among a group of people who attended a special gathering at Hereford and Hops Steakhouse and Brew Pub Thursday to mark the 100-day countdown to Esky 150, the city's sesquicentennial celebration on July 5-14.
The sesquicentennial committee hosted the "100 Days Out" event to announce a button fundraiser and a detailed list of events including a mustache and beard contest.
Former Escanaba resident Ward Zeno, of Bark River, holds a Daily Press article from 50 years ago when he and his friend, Pat Quinn, made a 20-day bicycle trip around Lake Michigan to promote Escanaba’s Centennial. They each received the city key at the end of their journey.
"Guys can start a new beard or just enter with existing beards," explained Kay Johnson, Esky 150 event co-chair, who was among several women and men wearing fake mustaches to promote the contest and encourage participation.
Thirteen varieties of Esky 150 booster buttons were unveiled and made available for sale at Thursday's gathering. Each button costs $3 or the 13-button set can be purchased for $30. They are available for sale at city hall, the chamber of commerce, Positively!, First Bank, and Northern Michigan Bank.
Esky 150 Committee President Pat Baribeau was touting the fundraiser explaining each button displays a different building important to the city's history including local businesses, schools, and the lighthouse. "The more money we have, the bigger the celebration," Baribeau added.
The 10-day event will begin with an opening parade on July 5. Other parades throughout the celebration will include a children's parade, a pet parade and costume contest, and a Venetian Night parade of boats.
Zeno, who made the bicycle trip in 1963 to promote Escanaba's 100th birthday, said he and his friend Pat Quinn, 16 then, made it back to Escanaba in time to lead the centennial parade.
During the 20-day trek, the pair rode borrowed 3-speed bikes and slept in a tent most nights, he recollected in a brief speech Thursday. A highlight of their trip was meeting Gov. George Romney who attended the city's centennial celebration at the teens' invite.
In addition to this year's parades, the community celebration consists of a long list of events including picnics and activities in the park, school reunions, concerts, historical home tours, and a water ski show. Escanaba's Maritime Festival will take place in conjunction with the anniversary celebration.
For a complete list of times and places of events, visit www.esky150.org.
During Thursday's gathering, Hereford and Hops brewmaster Mike Sattem announced a "Centennial Logger" beer that will be brewed in June for Esky 150. The light-tasting beer will be made from a recipe from the 1860s which includes corn and rice, he said.
Becky Moody, owner of Hereford and Hops, said the business is preparing for the city's upcoming 150th celebration as well as the 100th birthday of its own building in 2014 by undergoing some remodeling. The interior will exhibit a historical theme including historically-accurate paint colors and 55 framed photographs of Delta County history, she said.
Esky 150 will also highlight a fireworks display on Saturday, July 13, said Johnson, encouraging residents to enter a contest to win $15,000 worth of fireworks for either Esky 150 or the city's July 4 celebration.
Entry into the contest is a 150-words-or-less reason why Escanaba deserves a Fourth of July fireworks celebration, she explained. The "Red, White and You" contest is sponsored by Destination America and USA Weekend Magazine.
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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, email@example.com