Group aims to keep teens active

ALPENA – Teen branding team Fresh 45 is gearing up for a night of dancing and fun at Bay Urban Fitness on Dec. 21. Aimed at keeping teens active in Alpena, the group of Alpena High School teens has been involved in the “Sanctuary of the Great Lakes” branding since sanctuary Superintendent Jeff Gray spoke in the student marketing class at AHS about the purpose of the branding.

“We want to promote that there are things for teens to do in Alpena,” co-founder Hannah McDonald said. “We organize events for teens, and hopefully get them to want to come back to Alpena after college and raise their families here.”

There will be a few different activities going on during the dance, and Fresh 45 is looking for anyone attending who wants to participate in some Christmas themed fun.

“We will have a sort of costume party for the Christmas dance,” McDonald said. “Everyone is encouraged to wear their best ugly sweater, their classiest outfit or best holiday character outfit.”

DJ Tim Thomas from 107.7 The Bay will be playing a variety of music during the party, and Christmas lights and themed decorations will decorate Bay Urban Fitness.

“It’s a start to winter break,” McDonald said. “It’ll be a fun night with dancing and decorations. It’s a way for the teens to have something to do to get into the Christmas spirit while on break.”

McDonald and co-founder Jay Dutcher are both seniors at AHS and once they learned about the branding, knew they wanted to start a group to promote teen events in Alpena.

“Jay went to the adult branding meeting, and wanted to start a group to focus on teen activities,” McDonald said. “We chose “Fresh 45″ because of the Great Lakes being fresh water, and the 45 parallel.”

The group has held some successful events prior to the Christmas party, including a free skate at Northern Lights Arena where around 120 teens attended.

“The Boosters helped us with the event at the ice rink,” McDonald said. “We’re holding another free skate on Dec. 28, with free octoball and broomball, they really are a lot of fun.”

McDonald said Fresh 45 has big plans for the future, and she hopes the group will continue to thrive and promote Alpena when this year’s seniors leave.

As a Fresh 45 supporter and volunteer, Gray said he is impressed by the efforts of the students to create opportunities for teens in Alpena.

“This is an incredible group of young people passionate about their community,” Gray said. “They are all about improving the community. It’s much more than just planning events for kids, they are helping to better the branding of Alpena for the future.”

As the group grows, Gray said they are looking to hold more events and raise money to help support the growth of the community and the branding of Alpena.

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.