COPPER HARBOR - Sue Hockings is a Copper Harbor resident, and Sunday she was enjoying Lake Superior Day, which for the second consecutive year was taking place in her hometown.
Hockings said she enjoyed everything about Lake Superior Day, especially the food.
"It's a great way to celebrate the lake," she said of the event.
Participants in one of the canoe races head out into the bay Sunday during the Lake Superior Day activities in Copper Harbor. Besides the races, there were demonstrations of sculling and paddle board riding as well as food and music. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo by Kurt Hauglie)
Lake Superior Day was started in the early 1990s by a group of Thunder Bay, Ontario residents who wanted to celebrate and acknowledge how important the largest of the Great Lakes is to Canada and the United States. Eventually, other communities in Canada and the United States created activities for the day, which is always the third Sunday in July.
The Copper Harbor event Sunday was organized, as was the first one in 2013, by Donald Kilpela Jr., who said he was pleased by the crowd, despite the fact there were other events going on at the same time in Copper Harbor and other communities.
Many of the activities for the day were the same as last year, including canoe races, a demonstration of the ROV built by the Dollar Bay High School Enterprise Student Organization of Aquatic Robotics team, live music and food, but Kilpela said there were new activities, including a sculling exhibition by students from Michigan Technological University, a demonstration of paddle board riding, and rides on the Tech research vessel, the Agassiz.
"There's a little more flavor," Kilpela said of the added activities.
Also during the event, Marcel Dijkstra, Ph.D. candidate in environmental engineering at Michigan Tech University, spoke about how activities on one part of the lake can affect the entire lake and the communities around it.
"It shouldn't be dominated by one or two parties," he said.
Dijkstra said too many activities negatively affecting the health of Lake Superior can lead to a "tipping point," from which it may be difficult to recover.
"(People are) asking scientists how far we can tip it until we all fall off," he said.
Wendi Heikka and Mark Rudnicki were attending Lake Superior Day with their sons, 8-year-old Peter Rudnicki, and 5-year-old Boden Rudnicki.
Mark and Peter won the first canoe race of the day, so they were enjoying that.
Although the family lives in Connecticut, Heikka said she grew up in Houghton and knows Copper Harbor well.
"I worked in Copper Harbor for many years," she said. "It looks exactly the same."
Mark Rudnicki said he was enjoying the Lake Superior Day activities.
"I think it's a wonderful event," he said.
Bob Jewell used to live in Copper Harbor, and he's known Kilpela for more than 30 years. He lives in Texas now, but he was in Copper Harbor for a visit and learned about Lake Superior Day, so he decided to attend, and he's glad he did.
"It's great for the Upper Peninsula," he said. "It's great for the Keweenaw."