ROGERS CITY - The second annual Purple Martin Mania kicks off Thursday in Rogers City.
In an effort to raise funds to send foster children to summer camp, the Purple Martin has organized numerous events, including a dance under Presque Isle County's only cycling traffic light, Purple Martin Chairperson Cindy Vezinau said. The organization strives to help at-risk youth, and have many other family-friendly events planned.
"The Purple Martin is just a group of people who have gotten together, and we're trying to have fun while we're making a difference," she said.
The first event is Thursday at 6 p.m., where author and child advocate Jeanne Fowler will speak at the Presque Isle District Library about child abuse, she said. She'll also talk about how she and her sister were separated by the foster care system, and didn't see each other for 47 years, and sign copies of her book about her experiences afterward.
"When we found each other again, we both had grandchildren," Fowler said. "These children should be able to stay in contact with each other. They're siblings, after all."
To help keep foster children in touch with their siblings, Purple Martin and Big Family Michigan are working together to create a summer camp program called Someplace Warm, Vezinau said. She's working with the Michigan Department of Human Services to reunite siblings separated in foster care. Camp Chickagami in Presque Isle will host the camp, and many businesses in Rogers City will have containers where customers can donate their change to help fund the camp.
Saturday will be filled with activities, starting with a sidewalk chalk art contest at a downtown art gallery at 2 p.m., Vezinau said. At 4 p.m., there will be a pet parade beginning at Huron Avenue and Third Street.
"We're hoping to see some unusual critters coming out," she said. "Our fingers are crossed for a purple poodle or a purple pig. All pets are welcome; we'll see if anyone can get their cat on a leash."
The day continues with an ice cream social at 6 p.m., and dance under the traffic light at Third Avenue and Erie Street, from 8-11 p.m., Vezinau said. There will be a remembrance wish lantern release at 10:30 p.m., where people can buy a floating lantern for $10. A bonfire will follow at North Shore Park.
Rogers City businesses will get in on the festivities, with many offering specials on purple items and competing to have the best decorations, Vezinau said. Local taverns and restaurants will compete to create the best Purple Martin-themed drink, with judges evaluating the entries on color, taste, presentation and other aspects.
For more information about Purple Martin Mania, visit www.thepurplemartin.org.