Pigs-N-Heat warming up for charity hockey game

The 35th annual Pigs-N-Heat fundraiser event is set for March 14 at Lakeview Arena in Marquette. The event features local fire and police agencies facing off against each other in a hockey game. Proceeds from the event go to aid families who have lost their homes to fires. From left, Marquette City Manager Mike Angeli, Marquette City Police Cpl. John Rink, Marquette City Fire Chief Ian Davis and President of Pigs-N-Heat Brian Olson display tickets, which cost $1. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

MARQUETTE — The kickoff for the annual Pigs-N-Heat hockey game was held last week at Marquette City Hall.

Teams of local firefighters and police officers will face off in the hockey game at Lakeview Arena in Marquette on March 14. The game is put on by local fire and police agencies to raise money for the Marquette County Fire Relief Fund, which supports families who have lost their homes to fire. The kickoff was held Feb. 8.

“We’re happy to announce that the 35th annual Pigs-N-Heat game is going to be held March 14 at 7 p.m., at Lakeview Arena,” Brian Olson, Pigs-N-Heat president, said. “This annual event, … it’s the only big fundraiser for our organization, which is the Marquette County Fire Relief Fund. What we do is, we provide funds to people who have been displaced from their homes due to fire, … for toothpaste, toys for kids, the simple things … while they’re waiting for insurance to kick in. Then we’ll also give them a place to stay for a few nights, and they can gather their thoughts and figure out what their next steps are. We’re real proud of the work that we do.”

Olson, who has been involved with Pigs-N-Heat for the past 25 years, said it all started when a local family’s home burned down and found themselves in need of a place to stay, which inspired local police and fire agencies to raise money to assist the family. The event started out small, Olson said. “The first game was held at (Northern Michigan University) actually, a small gathering … It’s grown since then.”

There were just 500 attendees at the first game, according to the Pigs-N-Heat website.

Now, the annual event draws attendees of all ages and raises an estimated $15,000 to $20,000 for fire relief annually.

“We usually get a couple thousand fans to come to the game. It’s a pretty big event,” Olson said, noting that the event is geared toward kids and families.

Since its beginning several decades ago, the organization has been able to raise about $425,000 through the Pigs-N-Heat game, officials said.

Tickets for the fundraiser are available at local police and fire agencies for $1, which also includes raffle entry for a wide variety of prizes, including a grand prize of $1,000 donated by Eagle Mine.

An awards ceremony will take place at Lakeview Arena at 6:45 p.m. immediately preceding the game, with “Firefighter of the Year” and “Police Officer of the Year” awards to be presented. Following the event, a “Fourth Period Party” will be held at Marquette’s Holiday Inn. The free event will feature food donated by the Holiday Inn, Olson said.

Local fire officials at the kickoff also noted important fire safety concerns for the winter. Caution should always be exercised when using supplemental heat sources such as space heaters, which should never be left unattended. It is also always important to check smoke detectors frequently to make sure the batteries are still working and the unit functions properly, officials said.