ISHPEMING - Despite the loss of Hickey's Bar to fire last month, the Ishpeming pub's 10th annual Salvation Army Benefit Nite lives on - much as warm memories of times spent at Hickey's remain in the community's collective memory.
The benefit gets under way at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Venice Supper Club. The night's events, prizes and live entertainment haven't changed with the venue. Benefit-goers can still expect a silent auction, which will include an Ishpeming High School 2012 state champion autographed jersey and football; raffles throughout the night; and door prizes donated by local businesses.
Live entertainment will be provided by "Slamtones," "Drew and the Geezers," "VIP," "AJ Stone," "WNMC," "Trippin Hazard," "Hart, Harp and Bones" and others.
An Irish flag blows in the wind outside of Hickey’s Bar in Ishpeming on St. Patrick’s Day. The bar, which was an Ishpeming landmark since it opened in 1941, burned down in November. However, the owner is proceeding with his annual Salvation Army benefit, which will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Venice Supper Club in Ishpeming. (Journal photo by Justin Marietti)
The owner of Hickey's, Brian Polkinghorne, said the idea for the benefit first came from a former employee, but Mike Alderton quickly became the benefit's coordinator and "was probably most responsible for sustaining it."
"It's kind of a passion of his," Polkinghorne said. "He talks Salvation Army benefit from the middle of July on. He's a very selfless guy. He's the guy that keeps this thing alive more than anybody else each year."
Alderton said the benefit is a great cause.
"The Salvation Army does so many things for underprivileged families and it helps the community, those that throughout the year don't get a chance to actually give either time or money to charities," Alderton said. "With this charity they can walk right in, even have a few drinks, and it's going to help us."
Alderton said he hopes that people will buy raffle tickets and donate gifts, but said even buying a couple of drinks will help.
"Christmas morning they can say to themselves, 'There's little children with big smiles right now because of what we did a couple weeks ago,' " he said. "I love that feeling; that's probably the main reason I do it."
Polkinghorne said over the past nine years, the Hickey's benefit raised more than $20,000.
Alderton said the fire at the bar makes this year's benefit particularly special.
"Now this year, it's just I guess saying goodbye to the bar, and this'll be our last hurrah, and it's kind of just a memory of - I hope everyone will treat it as saying goodbye to Hickey's" he said.
Polkinghorne has been amazed by the support he's received since the fire, with people on Facebook expressing how much the bar meant to them, sharing memories of good times they had there.
He said he has hasn't decided yet what to do with the property.
"It's a great loss," he said. "I mean, that was my home away from home. That's where I'd be in the mornings, seven days a week, practically."
Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401.