There’s only one “big lake” around here, and that’s Lake Superior. Native Americans in the region called it Gichigami, meaning “big water,” and they were right. Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world, and holds one tenth of the world’s freshwater. So it’s only fitting that this truly awesome lake should have its very own day, and it does! This coming Sunday, July 18 is a big day for the big lake. Communities around the region and along the North Shore are gearing up to celebrate Lake Superior Day, held each year on the third Sunday in July.
“We feel that one of the reasons to even have a Lake Superior Day is that if we can connect people to the natural environment, either the waters of the lake itself, or the rivers or the streams or the forest, it’s more likely that people will feel connected to the lake and appreciate it and want to learn more.”
That’s Lissa Radke. She’s with the Lake Superior Binational Forum, a joint U.S-Canadian citizen advisory group. They’ve been sponsoring Lake Superior Day since 2003.
“We’ve done a lot of research into where did the day start and when, and the closest we can come to what we think are the origins are some citizens up in Thunder Bay who launched this idea probably as far back as 1990, maybe 1991,” says Radke. “We decided in about 2003 that we should resurrect the third Sunday in July as an annual Lake Superior Day, that would be celebrated every year, similar to Earth Day, and it would be celebrated in all kinds of parts of the community all around the lake.”
Here on the North Shore, Lake Superior Day activities are planned for Two Harbors, Gooseberry Falls State Park, Split Rock Lighthouse, Oberg Mountain, Sugarloaf Cove, and Grand Marais. Alexis Berke is the naturalist at Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center near Schroeder.
“At Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center we’ll be having some special activities all day to celebrate Lake Superior Day,” says Berke. “At two o'clock I’ll be leading a program called ‘One Great Lake.’ And it will be an informational program and a hike, about Lake Superior and its creation and geology, up through current threats, and what Lake Superior is facing now, and will include a hike down to the shoreline. One of the most important things about Lake Superior is that we all have a part in keeping it beautiful. So far it’s been the most preserved of the Great Lakes and we want to make sure that it stays that way.”
You can also take part in Lake Superior Day in a symbolic way. Just go fly a kite, says Lissa Radke.
“The Lake Superior Binational Forum started a "Go Fly a Kite” program, a couple years ago,” says Radke, “and we used the kite as a symbol of clean energy sources. And so we encourage people to, even just go down to your favorite beach, or a park, or someplace near the lake, and fly a kite as a symbol to your interest in clean energy sources,” says Radke. And she’s hoping people will find ways to celebrate Lake Superior Day this Sunday.
“We really feel that once you get down to the lakeshore, and you put your feet in the water, or you have a picnic, or you fly a kite, or you pick up some litter, with your family or your friends, chances are you’re going to appreciate the lake more and connect more deeply to it, and then that deep connection and appreciation for the very special waters of the world’s largest freshwater lake, will then lead to a desire to protect the lake from some of the things that are challenging it.”