They can be found all across the UP.Saunas are an iconic piece of Finnish culture. On the front lawn of the Finnish American Heritage Center, one is being built in preparation for FinnFest next summer. Local artist Mary Wright says the City of Hancock provided the materials needed for the first of over 50 saunas to be constructed for FinnFest. "The walls were put together last August or July, and it's been stalled forever," Wright said. Wright has been working on this particular sauna since this past summer, and after plans fell through and she struggled to find volunteers to rebuild it, she turned to her own friends for help. Bob Wheeler says he's been helping Wright with the construction so it could get done in time to sing carols around it on Christmas Eve. "I think it'll be a nice attraction for downtown Hancock here," Wheeler said. "When FinnFest is going, I'm sure they'll have it going full time then, and you get a little flavor for the old time history right here." What you see on the outside of the sauna is completely original, and the wood is almost 100 years old. What's being put in is new walls, a new stove, and a new roof. Wright says she's worked with FinnFest in Marquette in the past, painting blue and white chairs to place around the city. She says she's happy her art will be displayed again this summer. "It's a real privilege working for the community," Wright said. Construction on the rest of the saunas will begin in January by businesses across the UP.
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