Heikinpäivä in Hancock


A man wears a costume for the parade. – Photo by Peter Zhu

This past Saturday, Jan. 28, was Heikinpäivä’s busiest day in Hancock. It was lightly snowing and the weather was perfect. The day started with a parade at 11 a.m. The Michigan Tech Pep Band was one of the many participants. There were plenty of others dressed in traditional Finnish clothing, waving flags, and walking along proudly. Joey Huffman won first place in the parade and sported blue and white panda face paint. He was happily showing off his medal to everyone and is also promoting his homemade action film.

After the parade, the wife-carrying races took place on the Quincy Green outside of Finlandia University. During the race, husbands had to carry their wives to three different stops. At the first one, the couple had to fully lay out rugs in the snow, at the second one the couple stopped at a small pretend sauna and at the third one they stopped to enjoy some tea. The pair that could complete the three stops the fastest won. Gunnar Groesbeck and Katy Schoetzow were the lucky winning couple completing the race in roughly 36 seconds. As they received their prize, a homemade wooden bench with traditional baked goods, they proudly held up their young son, Booker Groesbeck, who was dressed as a cute tiny bear.

Following the wife-carrying races were the kicksled races. These were geared for children 12 and younger. As the course was set up, they formed teams of two. At the start of the race their faces all held serious looks, but by the end, they were replaced with enormous smiles.

Throughout the day, the markets were open as well. Inside, vendors sold a variety of goods ranging from baked treats to homemade crafts. There were many Finnish-themed pins, hats, shirts and flags scattered around the stalls. Cindy Blake was one of the vendors. It was her first year participating in Heikinpäivä, but she’s already convinced she’s going to participate next year because of all the happy people that came. At her stall, she sold a variety of bracelets made from reindeer leather and colorful beads. Pekka Losln was another vendor in the market. His booth consisted of homemade wooden whittled items such as bowls, spoons and decorative trees. He has been carving things from wood since he was five years old because his family needed new tools on the farm like handles for rakes. Losln said he gets a lot of his inspiration from the forest surrounding his house and likes to sit outside and watch the birds. The things he can make from an ordinary piece of wood will amaze you with their complexity.

There was also a Polar Bear Dive at 3 p.m. and a dance at 7 p.m. In between the events many people walked along Quincy Street and stopped at some of the local stores. KC Bonkers, a unique coffee and toy store, was busy along with From the Past Antiques and Collectibles. There’s still time to participate in Heikinpäivä with Family Night on Feb. 3 and a squeaky cheese-making class on Feb. 6.

Overall, Heikinpäivä was a huge success this year. Many people were able to get back to their roots and celebrate where they come from. Most importantly, it was a day which allowed for anyone to come out and have fun. There were locals mixed with others who live an hour away. Everyone was able to enjoy a nice day outside and smile, which is what celebrating anything is about.