NEGAUNEE - Negaunee's annual Pioneer Days begins its week-long Independence Day celebration Saturday with the Negaunee High School alumni softball games, the inaugural Teal Lake Paddle and the 30-year reunion of the NHS Class of 1984.
The festival and its days of reunions, cookouts, games, picnics, live music, social gatherings and all-around pageantry will culminate with a downtown parade and a fireworks display over Teal Lake Saturday.
Barb Oglesby, vice president of the Negaunee Irontown Association, an all-volunteer group that puts on the event, said that the celebration, which draws thousands of people to the city each summer, is a time everyone greatly anticipates.
Kids collect candy thrown from a WWII veterans float during the 2011 Pioneer Days parade. (Journal file photo)
"What's special about the week is people look forward to it," she said. "People who don't live here anymore come home and all the class reunions are that week and it's just a time to see people you don't normally see."
Oglesby said she loves all of the events, mentioning the class reunions taking place throughout the week and the Pioneer Princess Pageant taking place at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Negaunee High School auditorium.
"One thing that is happening this year that hasn't happened the last few years is the Ice Arena dance," she said.
The Friday night dance, which takes place from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. at the Negaunee Ice Arena for ages 18 and up, doubles as an alumni reunion and this year is a fundraiser for the Iron Range Hockey Association. "There'll be two bands (Acoustically Challenged and Slave to Gravity)... and alcohol, pop, water, those types of things available for purchase," she said. Admission tickets are $6.
Also on Thursday at 8 p.m. in downtown Negaunee will be Social Night, a "night on the town" that Oglesby said is always very popular.
"That's always something people come home for, come to and look forward to," she said.
For a full list of the many events going on around the city, visit www.negauneeirontown.org/Pioneer_Days.html.
Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.