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      Annual Finnish winter celebration returns to Hancock

      It's a Finnish-American event that happens every year in Hancock. HeikinpÃivà is the annual celebration of the midway mark of winter. MaryFran Desrochers has been taking her family to HeikinpÃivà for the last 12 years. She said it's the perfect way to take advantage of the season. "Many of my friends who don't live where we live think it's crazy that we would have a parade in January,â?? said Desrochers. â??So I really think that that's my favorite thing is getting out and embracing winter." Events take place throughout the month and include a Finnish film night, a Nisu-making class, and a traditional Finnish dance night. "Whether you like to go to the tori market, or sample the foods on offer, or to do the whip sleds, or to see the reindeer, or the wife-carrying contest,â?? Desrochers said. â??I think that's just nice family fun that people can get out and enjoy altogether." One of the things that will be held during the HeikinpÃivà parade this year is Nordic walking. Nordic walking uses poles to provide stability or to enhance a person's workout. This will be a preview for an even bigger event during FinnFest 2013 where we will attempt to break the current world record of 1,026 simultaneous Nordic walkers, which is currently held by Sweden. Dave Maki, a committee member for HeikinpÃivÃ, said this year the event will be a kickoff for FinnFest, and linking the two together just made sense. "This area is so well-connected to its Finnish roots,â?? said Maki. â??It embraces its Finnish roots, and we're also noted for our very lengthy winters. And it's created to bring the Finnish roots of the community to the forefront and also give people a chance to embrace winter rather than let it get the best of them." Events for HeikinpÃivà take place January 20 through 26 with the parade on Saturday. For a more detailed list of the events, visit