Community spirit rising for Hockeyville USA

CALUMET — Community support is increasing for an iconic Keweenaw area Ice arena as communities across the country anxiously wait to see if their hockey rink will be getting a $150,000 upgrade and an NHL Hockey Game played in their hometown.

The Calumet Colosseum has entered Hockeyville USA, a national contest sponsored by Kraft Foods, that grants $150,000 dollars do aging community ice rinks in need of repair.

“How Long have you had hockey? Since 1913,” said Paul Lehto, the Calumet Township Supervisor. “We have had every division from mites to senior hockey and it’s been that way for the last 100 years. We brag we’re the oldest indoor ice rink in North America and so far nobody’s challenged that.”

Many make that claim and at 105 years old, the rink is in need of some upgrades.

“The three page questioner is generally on the rink,” said Lehto. “It’s about the size of your rink, seating, the ice plant, dehumidifiers, your sound system… so we filled all that out but that doesn’t mean we’re a finalist yet.”

With a little more than a week left before four of the contestants will be narrowed down to a final vote, excitement is rising in the town that was once known as Red Jacket and if you have a story or a memory to share about the rink, a few minutes of your time to tell that story could make the difference.

“It’s outstanding. We have nothing but good comments,” said rink manager Mark Peters. “Kraft’s Hockeyville site, I’ve been monitoring it and several paragraphs written from fans from Brighton, Novi, and also the locals from Houghton and Hancock who wrote several real nice ones.”

To participate simply go to www.krafthockeyville.com and search for Calumet and submit a photo or story.

“We need the support from everybody,” said Peters. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from. Marquette, downstate, anywhere.”

The Township itself has many stories about the venue including how it’s ownership was acquired from the State.

“It’s changed ownership a couple of times,” Lehto said. “The state of Michigan owned this and after the old Armory burned, we convinced them to build a new armory a mile away from here. So we traded them 12 acres of property for this building. Don’t tell anybody.”

A community video shoot is in the works, and if you’re a drone operator would would like a rare video opportunity, you might want to give the Colosseum call at (906) 337-2507

“The new thing we’re trying to do right now is we’re trying to get somebody involved with a drone and during a hockey game we would like to fly it around the rink, outside with the people coming in to watch the game,” Peters said. “We’re hoping to do it before next Thursday, because our deadline is Saturday.”

Photo and story submissions are open until next Saturday, and a final four will be announced on March 24th, with voting to begin on the 30th, and a Grand Prize Winner announced on the 31st.

“Let’s get the public out to give us a hand as they can,” said Lehto. “Go on Facebook, go on Kraft’s Hockeyville site. Let’s get a lot of votes in there for Calumet.”