Celebrities arrive for golf classic

The Upper Peninsula Celebrity Golf Classic officially starts Thursday, but things were in full swing Wednesday night at the event’s Match Party.

The threat of storms had everyone looking for shelter and moving indoors around 7 p.m., but all guests were having a good time raising money for the Beacon House.

Former Detroit Tiger John Hiller spends his summers in Iron Mountain, and said supporting the Beacon House hits close to home.

“I was golfing with my wife (a few years after the Beacon House Opened) and I dumped her out of the golf cart, in Iron Mountain, she ended up with a concussion.  She was passed out for about ten minutes, and the next thing you know they were bringing her up to Marquette General and I ended up spending a few nights at the Beacon House,” Hiller said.  “Three years ago, when Steve (Mariucci) called me up and said ‘Would you mind helping out with our fundraiser?’, I said, ‘Well definitely’.”

One of the unique parts about the golf classic is that athletes and celebrities from all over the country participate.

“I get to meet a lot of athletes from all over the country and share stories,” Hiller said.  “And just see people year after year.  The main thing is helping out for a great cause.”

“We have all kinds of people from different walks of life from all over the country,” Host and Presenting Sponsor Steve Mariucci said.  “That’s what makes it interesting and fun.  It’s really a diverse crowd, and we do a lot of events in the year but this one is very special.”

“I don’t play in the event, I just drive around and eat cheeseburgers,” he added with a laugh.  “And shake hands and kiss babies and have a good time.”

The Match Party featured a musical performance by celebrity golfer Steve Azar, and a live auction with items including signed NFL jerseys.  All proceeds from the event benefit the Beacon House.

The UPCGC kicks off Thursday morning at 10 a.m. with a shotgun start at the Marquette Golf Club.