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The place to be Sunday

July 5, 2010 - Steve Murch
The conversation started last night with Sports Editor Chris Dobrowolski — actually he initiated it. He mentioned how vibrant Alpena was yesterday during the Fourth of July events. It could best be described as: people, people everywhere. He also said today would return to normal, which it did (though it feels more like the town is suffering from a post-holiday hangover).

His comment was Alpena needs to find the formula,, bottle it and use again. He's right, but there are factors.

The Fourth of July is one part holiday celebration, one part family reunion. Many families who grew up here and live elsewhere come home for the holiday. There are plenty of familiar faces around town not seen at other times. The other factor is the day is chock full of events. Everyone loves a parade and fireworks. Those two events drew people by the thousands. Throw in the Maritime Festival and there were events for everyone to enjoy. That's a full day of things to do.

Alpena has the Brown Trout Festival coming up, but it has changed through the years with the people who attend the event. It's a great festival but it doesn't generate the kind of buzz and energy around town that the Fourth does. And that's understandable.

As Alpena continues to reach for the tourism dollar, finding the right draw is the challenge. Tourists don't just come here because it's out of the way. Of communities 10,000 or larger in the Lower Peninsula, Alpena is the one farthest from divided highway or freeway, a key to getting anywhere faster and with fewer traffic starts and stops. It might seem like a small hurdle, but when time is precious, a couple hours here and there might make the difference in the choices people.

Will we have an event that draws people like the Fourth of July does, or creates the same buzz and energy? I guess will just have to wait and see. AND, most importantly, roll up our sleeves to make it happen.


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