Flowers, hiking in the spotlight

While Memorial Day weekend shifts most area residents into the the summer mode, there are a couple events this weekend that let us know the season to get outdoors more often has fully arrived.

One involves planting flowers to brighten up the gateway into Marquette, while the other encourages people to get out and do some hiking.

The first is Petunia Pandemonium, which is marking its 25th anniversary this year. Traditionally held in early June, the effort involves planting thousands of flowers along South Front Street.

I remember the first year of the flower project, when Barb Kelly – then chairwoman of the Marquette Beautification and Restoration Committee – stopped by the newsroom looking for someone to do a story on a project she had in mind.

She was motivated to launch the flower project in Marquette after seeing a similar one downstate, and the rest is a quarter century of colorful, pleasantly smelling history.

Hordes of volunteers, the first wave consisting of school kids planting flowers today, stick flowers into beds along the roadway. The main planting takes place beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, when various groups and individuals converge on the flower beds.

The work doesn’t end then, though, as volunteers work throughout the summer tending to the flowers to ensure the picturesque southern entrance to Marquette maintains its beauty.

While this event makes it more pleasant to be outside in the city, Saturday’s second happening draws us more into the woods.

The 21st annual National Trails Day is being celebrated and last year more than 157,000 Americans participated in roughly 2,000 events staged across the country, according to the American Hiking Society that launched the day honoring trails in 1992.

There are a handful of U.P. events planned to mark National Trails Day this year, including:

– Dedication of the new hikers shelter at Lakenenland Junkyard Art Sculpture Park off M-28 in Marquette County’s Chocolay Township.

This event is being sponsored by the North Country Trail Hikers Chapter, which oversees the North Country National Scenic Trail in the central U.P., including the stretch that runs along Lakenenland.

Owner Tom Lakenen has always welcomed hikers, bicyclists, snowmobilers and others passing his park to stop for a rest, and he build the shelter. Like much of his other features in the park, the shelter came from recycled materials, this time logs from an old sauna rather than his usual metal items.

The dedication gathering is set for 1 to 4 p.m. and will include hikes around the sculpture park and along the NCT. For more information, send an email to or call 226-6210.

– Marquette Township will be hosting a NTD celebration at its Schwemwood Park from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Included will be information on what the township would like to see occur on the 4.75 acres it recently acquired.

The property is adjacent to both the township park and the Iron Ore Heritage Trail and plans call for a trailhead for the IOHT to be located on the property.

– Van Riper State Park off U.S. 41 in western Marquette County will offer a guided hike from 1 to 2 p.m. Participants should meet at the park picnic shelter.

For more information, call the park at 339-4461.

– Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Paradise is celebrating NTD with a hike along the Tahquamenon River between the Upper and Lower falls beginning at 9 a.m.

Participants can take a free shuttle from the Lower Falls to the Upper Falls, where they will begin the five-mile hike back to the Lower Falls along the scenic River Trail.

The River Trail parallels the Tahquamenon River and is part of the North Country National Scenic Trail. The shuttle will run every 30 minutes between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

In addition, outdoor activities, nature crafts and other activities will be offered all day at the Upper and Lower falls.

There is no registration required for this event and no cost to participate, but a Recreation Passport is required to enter the park.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park is located on M-123 west of Paradise in Chippewa County. For more information, contact the park at 492-3415 or visit

– The Ottawa National Forest will host a gathering beginning at 10 a.m. to open the Norwich Interpretive Trail. The sign-in for the effort will be at the base of Norwich Bluffs on Norwich Road, located a few miles northeast of Bergland near the Victoria Dam.

Included in this effort will be clearing brush and trees, improving the trail tread and installing interpretive signs along the trail. Additional signing of the trail and Norwich Cemetery work could also be included.

For more information, contact Jeff Mell at 884-2411 or via email at

These are a few events in which hikers can enjoy the wonderful northwoods and participate in a little celebration of the many benefits of walking along a trail.

If you can’t make it to one of these Saturday, just find a trail near you and take a hike.

EDITOR’S?NOTE: City Editor Dave Schneider can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 270.