Heikinpäivä brings special guests to the U.P.

Heikinpäivä brings special guests to the U.P.

HANCOCK — An annual Copper Country festival brought a few special guests to the area. ABC 10’s Amanda L’Esperance has more from Hancock.

Heikinpäivä is an annual festival in Hancock, celebrating St. Henrik’s Day. This year’s festivities included community favorites like a parade down Quincy Street, a Tori market in the Finnish–American Heritage Center, games on the Quincy Green and a dance with live music by the band Finn Hall.

Each year the title of Hankooki Heikki is given to a person whose contributions aid the preservation and enhancement of Finnish–American culture in the Copper Country. This year, John and Pauline Kiltinen of Marquette were chosen to share the title. The husband and wife duo are active in numerous Finnish–American organizations. One example of their significant contributions is their effort to commission the international Finnish–American opera “Rockland.”

Pauline Kiltinen says her favorite part of Heikinpäivä was riding in the parade.

Pauline Kiltinen said, “It was just fascinating. Because there were two of us, we shared the crown and the cape. John wore the crown and I wore the cape, it was beautiful.”

The Kiltinens were also chosen to receive special honors from the government of Finland. A very special guest, Jukka Pietikäinen, Consul General of Finland, visited to celebrate Heikinpäivä and present the medals of honor to the Kiltinens. John Kiltinen received the Order of the Lion and Pauline was given the Order of the White Rose.

Pietikäinen said, “When citizens, or friends of Finland abroad, have done some remarkable work, or career or lifetime achievements, then the President and the Secretary General of these Orders will propose medals of honor, and this is the case. So, it’s for civilian activities or supporting Finland abroad. ”

Consul General Pietikäinen has visited Hancock once before, for FinnFest 2013.

Pietikäinen said, “I feel so much home here, it’s unbelievable, because this is the place of Finnish heritage in the United States. I mean, no where else do we have such a concentration of Finnish–American as in the U.P.”