Murch: Alpena, quite simply, is a place to be

This year has been an interesting one for Alpena residents. In addition to the regular events that take place every year – Blues Festival, Brown Trout Festival, Maritime Festival and Fourth of July activities to name a few – there have been visits by the Yorktown cruise ship, HOG Rally and Major League Fishing. With the exception of Major League Fishing, which didn’t want onlookers, all the events where supported with great turnouts by local residents.

We’re used to seeing turnouts at the regular events, but there is always a bit of a question mark if the community will come out for something new. There are always a few curious souls, but you have to hope for a big turnout sometimes.

Those fears were alleviated the first time the Yorktown docked in the Thunder Bay River. Dozens of people wandered around to get a good look at the ship every time it came to town, four stops in all. There are stories of the help residents provided to those who were ship passengers, including one who drove a passenger to a yarn shop and back before the ship had to depart. The Yorktown will make more stops next summer.

The HOG Rally saw hundreds of Harley Davidson owners descend upon Northeast Michigan for a weekend of riding around the area, capped off with a parade. And the turnout for the parade was incredible. Downtown was packed with residents and visitors alike watching the 1,000 or so Harley riders come into downtown and then put their bikes on display.

This past week it happened again, as hundreds of residents, including several classes from area schools, attended the reenactment of the Gettysburg Address. Culligan Plaza was filled and alive as President Abraham Lincoln, played by Duane Beyer, gave the address almost 150 years to the minute. Everyone involved deserves a big thank you for their work in pulling off the event, especially Greg Adamus who was tireless in his efforts – both in working on the event and getting the word out.

This event was almost like Greg raising a child it seemed. I heard him talk about the event three times before it happened, each time there was more to it – the parade had more participation, the event had more happening, the Civil War display had more items. All the while, his enthusiasm for the event never wavered. He was as excited about it on a Wednesday morning 6-7 weeks prior to the event as he was as it unfolded.

It was one of those days where you can’t help but enjoy living in a community like Alpena. And everyone I talked with about it had the same things to say – it was fun, it was interesting, it was great to see so many people take part in it and come listen to it.

Guess what, you have another chance to show your Alpena pride, and this time it could help the community in more ways than just shine a light on the interesting things happening here.

As you may have read on page 1A (and if not, you should go back and read), the Main Street Steering Committee is filming a music video. The committee – and for full disclosure I sit on that committee – has been tasked with helping in the application process to help the DDA land a Michigan Main Street Select level designation.

After the application is submitted, it is hoped the committee will be chosen to make a presentation to Michigan Main Street to try and land the Select level. What this could bring if selected is lengthy, but suffice to say downtown Alpena would benefit greatly. The video is part of the presentation package we would have if we are chosen to present in Lansing. We’re not counting our chickens before the eggs hatch, just being prepared.

So where do you come in? Easy, we need bodies, lots of bodies.

The video is being shot on Dec. 5 (Dec. 12 is the fallback day in case of lousy weather), and the video will end with a scene where we (hopefully) have hundreds of people in the streets or Culligan Plaza or whatever works logistically. It’s not going to require a lot of time, but it is in the middle of the day during the week. The committee believed it was the best fit because we need downtown to look natural in activity aside from filling downtown with more people than can fit on the sidewalks.

So go back, read the story, check out the Facebook page for the DDA event – and hopefully I’ll see you downtown Dec. 5.

Steve Murch can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5686. Follow Steve on Twitter at sm_alpenanews. Read his blog, Pardon, Me But … at