Esky to party like it’s 1863

ESCANABA – The group planning Escanaba’s sesquicentennial – the Esky 150 Committee – held an informational meeting Friday to share plans for the celebration of the city’s 150th anniversary, which will take place July 5 through 13.

“What we’re doing is just accumulating the events, scheduling them in, making sure that we have all the background that we need and the safety measures, and the tent rentals, and all those kinds of itty-bitty details,” said event co-chair Kay Johnson.

On July 5, the festivities will begin with the Sesquicentennial Parade down Ludington Street at 6:30 p.m. The parade will feature floats, bands, and even some of the features of the city’s Centennial Celebration from 1963.

“We contacted the nine surviving 1963 Queen candidates and several of them are coming back to be in the parade,” said Johnson. “You’re going to see one of the best and biggest parades we’ve had since 1963.”

A half-marathon will take place on Saturday. The race will start at Van Cleve Park in Gladstone and will end in Ludington Park in Escanaba.

“This is a huge undertaking. This is not a 150 event that Lori (Hertig, co-chair), or I, or the committee put together. This is an outside group that came to us and said we’d like to do something during the Esky 150,” said Johnson.

More than 100 runners have already registered for the race. More information and race registrations are available at

Following the race, Ludington Park will be abuzz with activity as people fill the park for family-friendly, free events. Some of the events include a family picnic sponsored by the Daily Press, Abracadabra Inflatables, pony rides, a petting zoo, horse drawn wagon rides, food vendors, crafters, local bands, a kids fishing pond, an obstacle course provided by the National Guard, and a concert by Escanaba native Catte Adams.

Sunday the festivities will continue with lap car races, a tribute for veterans, and log rolling demonstrations by area log rolling alumni.

“That will include our City Manager Jim O’Toole. He was one of the original River Rats. Why, I can’t imagine Jim on the log, but he has guaranteed us that he’s going to give it a try again,” said Johnson.

Monday’s events will include historic home tours, a local Brewmaster’s event, water ski shows from the Iron Mountain SKI-TERS, a concert featuring The Cadillacs, and a Venetian night boat parade.

Tuesday will feature a business and industry social at the U.P. State Fairgrounds. The William Bonifas Fine Arts Center will also present a historical radio show at the city bandshell and a gallery of local artists in the Bonifas’ gallery.

“If you have local artwork in your home they’re going to be asking you to loan that to them,” said Johnson.

Wednesday’s events will focus on children and seniors. A children’s parade will take place in the afternoon from the bandshell to Harbor Hideout, and a senior social at the Eagle Club will take place at 1 p.m. The Delta County Cancer Society will also host a luminary walk in the evening following a concert by the Escanaba City Band.

Thursday, a Native American powwow, with drumming and craft displays, will be open to the public. The day will also feature the Esky 150 Golf Tourney at the Escanaba Country Club.

The Sesquicentennial Celebration overlaps with the Maritime Festival on Friday and Saturday, July 12-13.

In addition to the Maritime Festival events, Newlywed Game finals and a country barn dance at the U.P. State Fairgrounds will be held Friday evening, and the finals for the Esky 150 singing contest will be held Saturday.

Two all-school reunions will also be held during the Sesquicentennial Celebration. Holy Name, which graduated high school students from 1954 to 1971, will have a reunion on Saturday, July 6, and Escanaba will have all all-school social at the fairgrounds on Wednesday, July 10.

“We’re hoping to have a wonderful celebration to bring families and our community together,” said Johnson.

More information about the Escanaba Sesquicentennial Celebration can be found at