Well, February has passed and all the craziness of gearing up for the winters main events is over…….despite the fact that winter was not on our side, we survived and a whole bunch of people came to the U.P. and many for the first time, 159 hockey teams and WISSA participants representing more than 10 countries…. and everyone seemed to have a great time. Yes, St. Ignace knows how to throw a party! A lack of solid ice moved the pond hockey and WISSA (World Ice Skate and Sailing Association) from Lake Huron to Lake Michigan and finally resting at Chain Lake….Chain Lake? many asked “where the heck is Chain Lake?”…according to the shuttle bus drivers, even a lot of locals didn’t know where it was. I can best describe it as this serene body of water you see to the west when coming from I-75 north into St. Ignace, swans own this lake and there is no prettier setting than when the sun is setting in the west and casting its magic on this little basically unknown to many, secret body of water. Lots of history though…..goes back to the 1600s or before when it was used as a passageway from Lake Michigan by the natives and then the traders,voyagers and missionaries into St. Ignace, establishing what is now our historic city. A good size portion of this lake is federal land, the city of St. Ignace owns a parcel and that was utilized for dropping off spectators and participants for the 10 day event.
Much of the treed area of Chain Lake is un-buildable.and certainly no great public viewing available…..(yet)….. homes are situated on the east and west side for part of the lake. Too shallow to really use as an all sports lake but its a great nature lake and I believe they pull a fair amount of Pike and other small pan-fish. Avid snowmobilers will pass along the east end in route to the trail system. Land is cheap here, always has been but hey, maybe having this world-class event and pond hockey event, this small lake, mostly overshadowed by the areas 2 Great Lakes and Big Brevort Lake, will come in to its own. The city could potentially open up an area for parking and special events…… and why not, it was a great backup spot for most of the events. For the WISSA event, the big Sails really needed the big lakes but what do you do when mother nature is in charge…..exactly what everyone did….make it work. An undertaking this big doesn’t happen without a ton of planning and kudos go out to so many people from the Special Events Group and all the pre-planning to a load of volunteers, Chamber of Commerce, Visitor Bureau, city workers and just community members who wanted to be part of the event activity…..What an effort! Hurrah and congrats to this community to pulling another great event off. So just as the season is ending and in fact never got started, we get dumped with 18 inches of snow or so, followed by 60 degrees, come on….we are YOOPERS, we need winter, real winter, snow, ice, bring it on. Some say it is the way the planets line up in the solar system and thus caused the mild winter..I don’t really care…..just give us back our winters so our economy can get back on track, people can ski, snowmobile, snowshoe and hike and ice fish, like we’re suppose to do in the winter. Ok, enough……I’m done ranting, just want the old days back………… A special time for the Mackinac Properties office is always helping participants in the pond hockey tournament find special lodging but this year, working with our international participants proved to be even more interesting. Dealing with language translations, finding the right needles and threads or (fish line) to fix ripped sails, finding electric adapters for their European electronic devises (thanks to my neighbor Patty, the international traveler) who actually owns this stuff, and just getting them accustomed to our area……it was a memorable experience……Imagine the look on my face when Andrei from Russia asked where the APPLE store was so he could buy an i-phone…..(apparently they are much cheaper in the U.S.) I just laughed, such is life in a small town. Simone from Quebec and his friend Catherine, (all rock stars in their respective countries) placed tops in their divisions) . Even as competitive as they are and the drive to be the best, they take great delight in friendly bantering back and forth. …These athletes have formed relationships through these international competitions and have shown us that good sportsmanship is alive and well….Many have visited each other in their respective countries. St. Ignace happened to be the gathering place……….and it was our privilege to host these popular events and help foster lifetime friendships…….so……. no matter what the weather, or the level one competes at, in the end, it is the communities open arms and gracious hospitality that most will remember. Well done gang!