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News from the Greater Munising Area: Seasons greetings from Alger County

JAYMIE DEPEW

The Alger County Chamber office was able to reward over 50 people this holiday season through its shop local campaign, Rekindle Grand Giveaway.

In previous years, shoppers brought receipts from any Alger County business to the chamber’s office or Grand Marais Outfitters to be counted toward entry slips for a drawing to win numerous prizes. People received one slip per $50 spent in the county. Since the campaign began in 2011, shoppers have brought in receipts totaling more than $2 million.

This year we adjusted the process because of safety concerns regarding COVID-19. Since the chamber’s office is closed to foot traffic, office staff safely rewarded people with gift certificates outside of various businesses throughout the county after they got done shopping.

Some days we doted festive face masks and others we were disguised as holiday characters while handing out gift certificates. My coworker dressed as Prancer the Reindeer and I was Darryl the Elf, both of which characters make appearances in The 12 Days of Rekindle video series our office released earlier this month. My partner, the sport, joined me on an excursion to Grand Marais one day dressed as a yeti, along with my dog, who tagged along also for rides to Chatham and Trenary another day.

Any reason to cruise around Alger County is a good one, but this takes the cake. With the little amount of snow our area has, we drove east along H-58 – the scenic drive along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – from Munising to Grand Marais. The road commission doesn’t plow between Melstrand and Grand Marais once the snow comes, turning the thoroughfare into a popular route for snowmobilers in the wintertime. Although the road wasn’t near being snow covered, there was a light dusting from the night before that stuck to ice in some parts along the way making it a slippery, jaw-clenching ride – especially around sharp corners. But I drove slowly and because of that, we were able to admire the towering trees and their branches covered with thick snowflakes at a much slower pace than we typically would have. Needless to say, we took M-77 to M-28 on the way back.

Before we left, though, we visited a few places in Grand Marais trying to spread a little cheer even though it was a cold and grey Saturday during a pandemic. We were welcomed by store owners, employees, and residents even though we really looked quite silly. Fortunately, we have photos documenting one scenario thanks to Kim Weaver of Grand Marais Outfitters who captured the moment the “Alger Elf” and “Yooper Yeti” rewarded Diana Bell with a gift certificate for shopping local at her store.

To say 2020 has brought challenges to the table is a complete understatement. Though, I would be remised to say that because of some of those challenges, we have been forced to adjust to and learn things we may never have tried. Last year I never would have imagined I’d be dressed up as a slightly creepy elf handing out gift certificates to strangers at any time, but here we are and here’s looking to the new year.

Editor’s note: Jaymie Depew is the communications and special project assistant for the Alger County Chamber of Commerce/Greater Munising Bay Partnership for Commerce Development, Munising Downtown Development Authority and Munising Visitors Bureau.

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