Tag Archives: Community

History of Valentine’s Day

The holiday season is over but so called “hallmark holidays” litter the calendar year, so where does the “season” end or begin?
Valentine’s Day, February 14, has long been a day for couples to share an intimate evening with gifts and a romantic dinner. But many people have little knowledge of where the love fest started.
The heart of this story takes many paths. The rose colored path talks of how cupid would shoot gold tipped arrows to make people fall in love with one another, or lead tipped to make a person hate the one who wanted to be with them.
Cupid, not always the baby with wings, was at one time a “sex symbol” whose name was Eros which is the Greek word for “erotic.” The blindfold that you see him wearing is to symbolize that love is blind.
In 1929, Valentine’s Day was blasted with bullets & blood when seven mobsters working for bootlegger George “Bugs” Moran rival to Al “Scarface” Capone were found executed in a garage on the North side of Chicago. A witness said they saw two uniformed cops exit the building escorting two men with their hands up.
There was no record of this with local police until they arrived on location. Scarface was the only suspect seeing how he wanted to do away with Bugs and get rid of the competition starting from the bottom up. What witnesses saw might have been right or maybe four murderers cleverly executing their devious plan.
Capone’s’ only clue to the possibility of this happening prior is what he said in response to an associate saying he’d have to do away with people to get to the top, to which he said “I’ll send flowers.”
The commercialization of Valentine’s Day has made it a cash cow for the retailers and brings almost $14 billion in revenue brought by 180 million roses and 35 million heart-shaped boxes. Keeping it simple with personal gestures such as doing the dishes or little love notes are sometimes better than anything money can buy.

Race to the Bitter End

Chilly Fest and the Silver Stick finals are responsible for pulsing life into Downtown Port Huron, Friday and Saturday, Jan. 22 and 23. Chilly Fest participants raced to an early bitter end Saturday evening as rain called off the ice drag races on Sunday.
Children giggled while bouncing on inflatables inside Kid Zone, bundled up in multiple layers. Families roamed from vendor to vendor consuming various types of chili, hot and cold beverages.
Music filled the air accompanied by the rumble of finely tuned engines, ready to hit the ice. Each day offered an assortment of live music from local bands that played for fans and onlookers.
Others cheered and looked out over the ice where snowmobiles tore down the strip. Exhaust fumes engulfed the crisp air, as horse drawn carriages trotted along their routes. Families also took time to watch dogs run their sleds along in demonstrations.
Stepping away from Desmond Landing, women found their peace at the Pampering Place provided by Bridges Wesleyan Church enjoying services such as massages and manicures. Pastor Scott Bin said, “This is for the ladies looking to escape the testosterone laden stuff.”
Pastor Scott and his wife with the help of Lee Ann Peart, Director of Downtown Development, had scheduled appointments because of the response to this offering.
Huron Ave. buzzed with shopping, restaurant hopping and ice sculpture viewing. John Henry, Professor at St. Clair County Community College, amused children with his team of ice sculptors who remained eager at work in front of McMorran Place. Each day offered an assortment of local bands that played for fans and onlookers.
Those that felt the chill while meandering through town warmed themselves with complimentary coffee and cocoa at Power’s Diner.
The main focal point of the weekend being Lee Ann Peart referred to as “the big dogs race,” was rained out to participants and racer’s dislike, an early end to an otherwise successful weekend.
Peart, after meeting with officials, announced that the final ice drag races will take place Feb. 6 and 7. Those anxiously awaiting the final race to the final, bitter end can look forward to another chilly weekend experience in Downtown Port Huron.

A Cool Place to Be

In the beginning, there was Pastime Hobbies. And according to its regulars, it was good. While other stores came and went, Pastime Hobbies served gamers in Port Huron for over 20 years.
Jeff Kenny worked at Pastime for his father Gary in charge of games. In 2009, Jeff branched off from Pastime Hobbies and founded Cool City Games. And the gamers of Port Huron followed.
“I am the Moses of gaming, and these are my people,” joked Kenny.
Located just north of the local comic shop and pizza place, Cool City Games has become the newest home to the gaming scene. Walk through the front door and you’ll be greeted by miniatures, cards, books and board games.
Come in through the back door, and you’ll see where the magic happens. Space marines battle aliens on hostile planets. Jedi clash with Sith lords for control of the empire. Planeswalkers attack each other with spells and creatures.
The game room is the cultural hub of Cool City. Board games, a poker set and boxes of cards line the back wall. Patrons sit at tables, pitting their skills against one another. A sign hangs over the wall reading, “Beware of Steve,” referring to Kenny’s brother.
The game room was one of the most important factors, according to Kenny. “I could still use more space.”
The split from Pastime Hobbies was, “something my father and I had been discussing for several years,” according to Kenny. “It came sooner than I thought it would.”
“An opportunity presented itself for me to buy a portion of that business,” said Kenny. With his father’s blessing, Kenny opened the doors to Cool City Games March 4, 2009.
According to employee Mike Beaver, the first item sold by the store was a miniature for the tabletop war-game “Warhammer.” “Warhammer” would also be the first game played at the store.
Cool City regular John Bright prefers the new space. “[In Pastime Hobbies] you were off in a separate room,” said Bright. “You didn’t feel so much part of the store, whereas here you’re almost integrated.”
“I think it’s great,” said Christine Carr, Bright’s girlfriend and business partner. “No offense to Gary, but I like this place better.”
“Pastime was a hobby store with a game room,” said Bright.
“And this is a gaming store,” added Carr.
Ask anyone why they keep coming back to Cool City, and the answer is the same: the sense of community.
“For 15 years I’ve built up a very, very loyal base of customers that continue to support me,” said Kenny.
“Jeff wants a very ‘Cheers’ environment, plain and simple,” said Bright. “He’s created a very club-like atmosphere.”
In addition to being regulars at Cool City games, Bright and his girlfriend also run “Magic: The Gathering” tournaments and has a business within the store buying and selling cards.
“We’re not in it for pure profit; we’re here to basically provide a hobby for ourselves and everybody else,” said Bright.
While not officially an employee, Bright has become another helpful face, ready to assist players with any questions they might have.
“It usually has a pretty good atmosphere,” said SC4 librarian Brennan Murphy. “A lot of different people come in to play different games. It’s a good place to go if you want to pick up a game.”
Even the younger crowd has embraced Cool City games.
“It’s great,” said Port Huron High School student Justin Martin. “Everybody is friendly. People come in, and they always want to help out. And it’s great that they’re not mad because we’re the younger crowd. They actually kind of encourage the younger crowd.”
“They’re everyday people,” said fellow student Kyle Gratz.
Financially, Cool City’s first year has been a good one.
“I would attribute it to the niche that I’m catering to, and the fact that there really isn’t any other competition,” said Kenny.
According to Kenny, business picks up whenever a new subset of “Magic: The Gathering” is released. “Going through the books, it just glares out at you whenever those weekends are.”
While business has been good, it hasn’t been perfect. Kenny noted a trend toward “down-spending” thanks to the local economy. Regulars who might have supposed multiple hobbies are now only nurturing one or two.
The new business also had its share of surprises, including a “disappointing” holiday season. “I was used to Pastime Hobbies’ holiday season, where we sold trains and all those ‘big ticket’ items,” said Kenny.
Holiday season aside, Kenny says he has no complaints. “It’s been great with foot traffic from the college.”
Cool City Games has kept afloat financially, but Kenny and others said money is a secondary goal of the store.
“I’ve got exactly what I bargained for,” said Kenny. “Probably about 75 percent of my customers have become pretty good friends. It’s a nice position to be in.”

Celebrations for the King

The legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. started with a dream, and turned into a legacy. SC4 celebrated this legacy Monday night with a night of festivities at the SC4 theatre.
There were multiple acts of singing and dancing present, and even a mock Michelle Obama appearance. It was a night in which a group of people showed that it is possible for all races to be equal, and celebrate with each other.
“If there was anything that the King had taught us, it was to love all people, because we are all equal,” Rev. Bill McGill stated Monday. Rev. McGill is from Fort Wayne, Indiana and he has attended this celebration for the last four years, this year he read the famous “I Have a Dream…” speech by Martin Luther King Jr. himself. “I have been coming to SC4 for a few years now, and it is always a pleasure to come here for the celebration of the King,” McGill said.
Rev. McGill was not the only person who admired the work of the king. Jerilyn Brown, President of the Port Huron branch of the NAACP, also wanted to honor MLK Jr. for his hard work. “It has been 16 years since we started to celebrate the King’s day of service, and in those 16 years we’ve come a long way but we still have a long way to go,” she said referring to the racial problems the United States still tries to overcome today.
As people spoke of races joining together, the crowd was filled with different races joining together in celebration.
“The King would be proud of where we are today, because only love can bring us together,” Geri Kimbro (Cultural Opportunities Subcommittee, Co-Chair SC4 Diversity Advisory Council) said while opening the ceremony.
The crowd participated in the festivities, and the entire theatre was exploding with joy, love, and remembrance. It had felt as if MLK Jr. himself was there as races pulled together to celebrate one of the most important people of the 20th century.

Helping with the Haiti Earthquake Disaster

Since the nation of Haiti was struck with a 7.0 magnitude earthquake on Jan. 12, people and organizations from across the globe have coordinated a massive relief effort. However, there is still a need for more support to provide things such as food, water, shelter and medical support.
To get some information on how to help, contact the American Red Cross of Port Huron. As of now, they are only requesting monetary donations rather than food or water, due to shipping costs. There are several payment methods available to those who want to contribute.
You can donate at www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or show up in person at 615 Pine Street. You can also text “Haiti” to 90999 on your mobile phone to make a 10 dollar donation that will automatically be added to your phone bill. To find other charities that are helping you can visit www.guidestar.com, where they have a directory service for charities across the country.
While many people have shown great generosity, there have been some reports of scammers taking advantage of that. Make sure to protect yourself by following a few simple rules:
Never give out personal information. Scammers will try to find out as much about you as they can to use it against you.
Do not respond to e-mail requests for donations. This could be any individual trying to take your money.
Choose a reputable charity. Make sure that the organization you are giving to is known as a legitimate charity.

Chilly Fest Makes Tracks

Rachel Olivia Kobylas
Staff Writer

Tread marks, paw prints, and hoof silhouettes are just some of the tracks that will be left behind by this weekend’s Chilly Fest. The event is scheduled to take place in Downtown Port Huron, Friday, Jan. 22 through Sunday, Jan. 24.
For those feeling a financial pinch, this weekend provides opportunities for family fun that is free of charge. John Henry, local artist and professor at St. Clair County Community College will be creating ice sculptures with other artists in front of McMorran Place Friday and Saturday.
According to Lee Ann Peart, Director of Downtown Port Huron, “There will be over 63 ice sculptures downtown for viewing.” If you get too chilly during demonstrations, Power’s Diner on Military St., will be offering free coffee and hot cocoa to spectators and participants all weekend.
One of the main focal points of Chilly Fest is the snowmobile races in Desmond Landing. There will be approximately 250 professional snow mobile racers at the event, and on Friday admission is free. Peart said, “The tent will be open at noon and they will be doing trial runs all day.” Sunday is the main race where Peart said “the big dogs” of the race will be on the track.
On Saturday, the ladies may want to take part in the ‘Women’s Pampering Place’ provided by BRIDGES Wesleyan Church at 1101 Fourth St., which is near the corner of Wall St. and Fourth St., downtown. They will be offering an assortment of free treatments between 11a.m. and 4p.m. Some treatments include: manicures, pedicures, facials, and massages.
Scheduling an appointment will be necessary, contact Lee Ann Peart at (810) 984 9790. Pastor Scott Bin of BRIDGES said, “This is for the ladies looking for a getaway from all that testosterone laden stuff. We want to let them know that we’re glad they’re in Port Huron.”
During the same time frame on Saturday, weather permitting, there will be dog sled demonstrations at Desmond Landing. Saturday and Sunday the World Series on Ice Snowmobile Drag Races begin, admission to the event will be 10 dollars per day, but parking will be free at Desmond Landing.
There will be horse carriage rides, a “Kidzone” area complete with televisions and video gaming systems, tours at Knowlton Ice Museum, and the Budweiser Big Igloo where there will be daily live entertainment, local bands, hot food and cold beer.
There are seven different local vendors, all that will be serving an assortment of goods as well as the traditional chili. Transportation between Chilly Fest and the festivities, stores and restaurants downtown will be provided by the local trolley system.

One dollar. No, two dollars.

Students returning to school this January had quite the surprise when paying to park in the South McMorran lot. Previously, the price to park on the South lot was a single dollar, but as of Jan. 1, the price has doubled.
The students may have gotten a surprise but the school knew of the price increase ahead of time, according to McMorran’s General Manager Randy Fernandez.
The reason for the increase is to lower McMorran’s running cost; the subsidy they’ve been receiving is in the process of being lowered. “The city has asked myself and the board to reduce operating costs and one of the ways we can do this is parking,” Fernandez said.
SC4 student Amanda Hartfil, 23 of Croswell, parks on the South lot. She was surprised. “I saw it, but everything is going up these days, isn’t it. I’ll still occasionally park here, on my long days” she said.
Whether parking in the school’s lot, which is free and frequently full, or on one of the McMorran lots… a student does have options.
Mary May, 79 of Port Huron, works for McMorran in the guard booth at the South lot. She said, “Many are surprised (about the increase), and question the price, because the North lot is still one dollar.” Just remember to bring your school id or backpack to receive the discount. May also said, “Some days are busier than others, but at night kids still like to park here because they feel safer.”
McMorran also offers parking booklets for 25 dollars which contain 40 passes. Permanent passes can be obtained at the office inside McMorran and are 250 dollars for the South lot, and 120 dollars for the North lot according to Fernandez.
It may cost an extra dollar to park in the South lot, but it is convenient, and what may cost an extra dollar now could be saving pennies upon pennies of tax money.