ESCANABA - Though Escanaba's 150th anniversary has ended, those involved in the monumental 10-day celebration say the milestone marks the beginning of another 50 years of the community coming together.
"Esky150 showed the spirit of the people working together, planning together, and having a good time," commented Esky150 Chair Pat Baribeau. "I think the next 50 years will be the best."
After more than two years of planning, Escanaba's sesquicentennial offered residents and visitors a wide variety of events including parades, concerts, contests, dedications, exhibits, shows, fireworks, and several other activities for all ages.
Following burial of the city's time capsule Sunday, City Manager Jim O'Toole said, "The Esky150 celebration has been a special community event that has brought everyone together to celebrate the past and give a jump-start to the future."
O'Toole added that all the events and activities showed what the city has to offer and proved the potential of people working together.
"The Esky150 committee went above and beyond expectations. This will be an event that will be talked about for years and sets a very high bar for future community celebrations," added O'Toole.
Mayor Leo Evans agreed that the sesquicentennial represents the past and the future.
"I think it celebrates the heritage and where we're going," Evans commented, mentioning a few of the events - parades, concerts, home tours, and class reunions.
The celebration brought a lot of out-of-towners into the community and brought some very good business to the area for retailers and motel owners, Evans added.
Planning and participation contributed to the success of the 10-day celebration but so did the weather, said Baribeau, adding, "The weather was just gorgeous."
Other essential factors in the event's success were the many volunteers as well as the many donations from area businesses, agencies, organizations, and individuals.
A total of 160 children and and adult volunteers were on record filling 290 slots throughout the various events, explained Event Co-chair Kay Johnson whose father, former city manager George Harvey, helped organize the centennial.
"These are very committed people," she commented. "I'm proud to live here in this community."
Johnson said it was very rewarding to see the thousands of people of all ages who attended the various events with smiles on their faces.
"I've gotten a lot of positive feedback," she added. Some business owners said business was very good with some doubling their regular sales.
Event Co-chair Lori Hertig said the sesquicentennial also offered more than a boost to local business.
"It was amazing to see all the people come out and enjoy the city, utilizing the parks and enjoying what the city has to offer," Hertig said.
Now that the anniversary celebration has come to an end, the Esky150 committee will put together a final report to present to the city, said Johnson. An economic impact statement will be presented by the chamber.
"We believe the economic impact will be significant," said Vickie Micheau, executive director of the Delta County Chamber of Commerce. "The direct effect is from the many visitors outside of the community who purchased food, lodging and fuel during their stay."
In addition to other information, the Esky150 report will include the number of participants in each event.
An estimated crowd of about 4,000 attended the water shows. A total of 2,700 hotdogs were given away during a community picnic. More than 500 entrants participated in running events.
In the children's parade, there were more than 200 kids. The pet parade had more than 50 pets. The sesquicentennial parade down Ludington Street included close to 200 entrants including floats, bands, walkers, and vehicles.
Holy Name High School reunion included about 700 participants while Escanaba's All School Reunion brought in an estimated 1,000 people.
Johnson and Hertig also thanked the city crews, including public works and public safety, who helped before, during and after the celebration. The planners also gave a shout out to all local media who helped get the word out about the many activities and events.
Organizers said they are looking to the possibility of future community celebrations that would be on a smaller scale on an annual basis.