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Rekindle the Spirit goes virtual this year

Mr. and Mrs. Claus take part in the filming of this year’s Rekindle the Spirit event. (Photo courtesy of Alger County Chamber of Commerce)

MUNISING — Rekindle the Spirit, Munising’s annual winter holiday celebration, is going virtual this year.

The one-day event typically occurs on a December night in the city of Munising’s cozy downtown district. Light posts are lined with wreaths and garland the same color as fir trees as businesses are adorned with jolly decorations. A holiday parade takes place down Superior Street with sleigh rides offered on the road afterward. Children visit with and get their photos taken with Santa, Mrs. Claus and other characters like the Grinch. Businesses in the district offer sales to encourage shopping locally. The city holds its annual Christmas tree lighting event and hot chocolate is handed out to people gathered in the heart of the town. Last year, snow fell ever so lightly making the scene appear straight from a movie.

Due to rising COVID-19 cases in the Upper Peninsula, staff at Alger County Chamber of Commerce, the office that hosts Rekindle the Spirit, realized an in-person event was not possible this year. Planning began months ago and after numerous Zoom meetings with staff, event sponsors and a local video production company, the chamber is ready to announce what it has in store for Alger County.

“The community loves having Rekindle the Spirit every year. Even with everything going on, we knew we had to figure out a way to have it again, even if it was in a different format,” said Kathy Reynolds, CEO of the Alger County Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber has teamed up with the Munising Visitors Bureau and Cameron Media to create “The 12 Days of Rekindle.”

Starting on Dec. 7, three- to seven-minute videos featuring Santa and Mrs. Claus, Ebenezer Scrooge and more, will stream on the chamber’s website, YouTube channel and Facebook page for 12 consecutive days.

Those who tune in will get the chance to learn how to decorate gingerbread cookies, make traditional crafts, listen to holiday stories and participate in other activities to celebrate the season.

Filming took place over the course of two days at Gallery Coffee Company, which is housed in the historic Sam Marks building along Elm Avenue. Last year during Rekindle, Gallery Coffee hosted a singing competition that was well attended and had participants from all over the U.P. The coffeehouse and gallery has a gorgeous performance stage that was perfect for filming “The 12 Days of Rekindle.”

“I think people will enjoy the videos and they will have fun watching some of their favorite characters and even a couple of new ones. Everyone involved in the project gave it their all and were eager to bring this to their community and spread happiness during this holiday season,” Reynolds said. “It was a real pleasure and I’m really proud of all of the people that participated. We also feel so fortunate to have the Munising Visitors Bureau sponsor the event and Gallery Coffee to allow us to use their space.”

The Munising Visitors Bureau is a nonprofit organization that’s funded through the collection of a 5% hotel occupancy/assessment tax to pay for promotions, marketing programs, events, and other projects around Munising.

“We are so happy to partner with the chamber and DDA on another project to use tourism funding to benefit the community. We can’t say enough what a great idea it was to change Rekindle to an online format for the community’s safety,” said Cori-Ann Cearley, president of the MVB. “We are so blessed to have such a tight-knit community and wonderful community partnerships and are happy to be able to give back. Thanks to all the people who made this partnership possible, mainly Kathy Reynolds, Pat Sanderson and Jaymie Depew. We look forward to partnering on more community projects going forward.”

The Rekindle Grand Giveaway event will also be modified this year. Held between Thanksgiving through the week before Christmas, the Rekindle Grand Giveaway is a promotion where anyone who spends over $50 in Alger County gets an entry slip for a drawing to win various prizes. Shoppers bring their receipts to the chamber’s office in downtown Munising or to Grand Marais Outfitters where they’re tallied and entered in the drawing. This year, rather than people saving their receipts from local establishments and turning them in for a chance to win prizes, random gift certificates will be given out spontaneously to customers outside of various Alger County businesses after they’ve purchased something.

For more information, visit www.algercountychamber.com or the Alger Co. Chamber’s Facebook page.

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