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      Hancock prepares for HeikinpÃivà 2014

      Finnish for "Heikki's Day," HeikinpÃivà is traditionally observed on January 19, the day of the passing of Finland's St. Henry and is a celebration of the midpoint of winter.

      For the last 15 years, the City of Hancock has thrown a party to celebrate with food, music, dancing, and the HeikinpÃivà parade.

      â??We have all sorts of Heikkiâ??s, and youâ??ll see them in our parade,â?? said co-chair of the Finnish Theme Committee, Jim Kurtti. â??For example, thereâ??s a Saint Henrik costume, and thereâ??s a Heikki Lunta costume, and then we have the special robe and crown that the Hankooki Heikki wears.â??

      The Hankooki Heikki, selected by the Finnish Theme Committee, is one who goes above and beyond to preserve and promote Finnish American heritage in the community. This yearâ??s honorary Heikki is Dave Maki, editorial staff member for the Finnish American Reporter.

      â??Itâ??s a tremendous honor because I take great pains to stay behind the scenes, and the fact that I get noticed for that type of work is very flattering,â?? said Maki.

      This year HeikinpÃivà events include cooking classes, kantele lessons, traditional dances, and, of course, the popular whipsled rides, wife-carrying contests, and the Polar Bear Dive.

      â??We take this really bitter winter, and we make it fun,â?? Kurtti said. â??We go out and celebrate. Itâ??s really odd that the coldest HeikinpÃivÃâ??s, we get our biggest crowds. I donâ??t understand why, but itâ??s so.â??

      â??Weâ??re all about having it be family fun with a Finnish flavor, and I guarantee anyone who comes out will find something to enjoy,â?? Maki added.

      HeikinpÃivà events begin Thursday, January 9, and the big parade will be January 25.

      For a complete list of events, click here .