by Gregory Zimmerman
My professional and personal interests are centered on ecology of natural habitats. I feel more at home in a grassland, forest or marsh than in a big city. I don’t seek crowds of people. But I’m not a curmudgeon. Sometimes I want to see lots of people. A city festival without a crowd is a sad city festival.
Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan puts on a pretty good Fourth of July celebration (right after Sault Ontario has put on a pretty good Canada Day celebration. The parade draws thousands of people. Crowds of people go down by the St. Marys River to see the fireworks. One of my favorite spots to see the fireworks is the Kemp Marina. The walkway around the marina is designed for public access. You can get right out onto the river. A good number of people gather there to watch the fireworks. It’s enough people to have a festival feel, but not so many as to induce claustrophobia.
Another very enjoyable mix-it-up-with-people event taking place from Canada Day to the 4th is the annual pancake breakfast. It’s a funraiser to support local challenged children. For a couple bucks you get sausage, pancakes, orange juice and coffee, cooked and served in a barge outfitted specially for this occasion. The barge spends a few days on the Canadian side then is floated across the river to our side. It’s quite enjoyable and it’s nice to catch up with friends and acquaintances at this offbeat event. Along with Breakfast-on-the-Barge is the tugboat parade and race. Seeing a flotilla of tugs motor up and down the river together is unique to river towns.
These events draw nice crowds. People gathering at the river is a great thing and the river provides an excellent backdrop for it. The river is important for the ecology of animals and plants; it’s also important for the ecology of people.