Monday, December 13, 2010

PasiCats' Pikkujoulu warms Brownstone Hall with song, dance

By Michele Bourdieu

On Sunday, Dec. 12, Pasi Lautala on accordion, Oren Tikkanen on banjo and Dave Bezotte on keyboard -- joined by singer Megan Plis -- lead the Pikkujoulu (Finnish Little Christmas) audience in singing Christmas carols in Finnish and English at the newly remodeled Brownstone Hall in Atlantic Mine. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

ATLANTIC MINE -- The first ever Pikkujoulu (Finnish Little Christmas), hosted Sunday, Dec. 12, by the PasiCats at the newly remodeled Brownstone Hall in Atlantic Mine, was an international, intercultural event. Despite the cold, snowy weather, the festivities attracted a diverse group of Finns, Finnish-Americans and others from local communities as well as international students from Michigan Tech.

Finnish students from Michigan Tech University helped lead the singing of Christmas carols in their own Finnish language during the Dec. 12 Pikkujoulu (Finnish Little Christmas), hosted by the PasiCats at the Brownstone Hall in Atlantic Mine. Pictured here are, from left, clockwise, Janne Vartiainen, Outi Vartiainen, Jukka Simila, Linda Kartano and Hanna Nummila.

The audience first enjoyed singing along with Christmas Carols in both Finnish and English, accompanied by Pasi Lautala on accordion; Oren Tikkanen on banjo, guitar and mandolin; and Dave Bezotte on keyboard. Song sheets with the Finnish words were provided. Pasi was joined by Finnish students from Michigan Tech in leading the Finnish carols, and a young singer, Megan Plis, who led the singing in English. Some favorites -- like "Silent Night" and "Jingle Bells" -- were sung in both languages.

Finnish students from Michigan Tech join Pasi Lautala on accordion and Oren Tikkanen on guitar in singing Finnish songs.

After the singing, dancers warmed up fast to the PasiCats' repertoire of waltzes, polkas, fox trots, country tunes and even tango and humppa.

Dancers do a lively Finnish schottische to "Deck the Halls." Joining Lautala and Tikkanen to play dance music are PasiCats "Paris" (Bob) Hiltunen and Mike LaBeau.

Meg Pachmayer and Anna Leppanen of Finnsight offered yummy baked goods, hot coffee and the irresistible glögi -- a hot and spicy fruit punch with secret ingredients revealed only to those who bought a Christmas card with the recipe. Shopping bags, CDs, and flash cards for learning Finnish were also available for sale.*

Launching their new business, Finnsight, are Meg Pachmayer, left, and Anna Leppanen. Among the homemade goodies they sold at Pikkujoulu were prune cookies, cinnamon rolls, cake with mocha frosting and, to drink -- glögi and Finnish coffee.

According to the Finnsight Web site, the new company will soon be selling Finnish products online. Their purpose is to preserve Finnish language and culture by creating and designing Finnish-themed gift items and educational tools for people with Finnish roots, Finnish friends, or just a Finnish interest.

These Iranian students -- all graduate students at Michigan Tech -- ventured out in the cold to learn about Finnish customs, songs and dances at the Dec. 12 Pikkujoulu celebration in Brownstone Hall. Pictured from left are Amir Gheitasi,Kosur Khaksari, Hosna Ajilian and Hamed Pouryousef.

Susie Landers and her husband, Tim Landers, are responsible for the transformation of the old St. Mary's Hall into the Brownstone Hall -- a new venue for dances, parties, wedding receptions and more.

Susi Landers, right, joins Anna Leppanen at the Finnsight table during Pikkujoulu. Landers and her husband, Tim Landers, owners of Brownstone Hall, have been working hard for months to remodel the building.

"We purchased it in July 2010," Susie Landers said. "We've been working 24-7 since then trying to get it up and running."

The beautiful wood floor, the stage and chandeliers are welcome additions for any event. The kitchen is still in the process of being remodeled.

The Hall is already being reserved for wedding receptions, Susie noted. After Jan. 1, 2011, she hopes to have a schedule of events.

More photos of Pikkujoulu:

Pikkujoulu is a family tradition. Riikka Hepokoski and her husband, Mark Hepokoski, who recently moved to Hancock from Tampere, Finland, brought their children, dressed in festive Finnish outfits, to share in the fun. Riika is pictured here with three of them -- from left, Johan, 9; Greta, 7; and Brita, 4. Baby Anna, 6 months, is not pictured but was all snuggled in her basket.

Dancers Debbie Stouffer and Chuck Kautto drove all the way from Herman for the event.

Here's hoping the PasiCats will make Pikkujoulu an annual Copper Country tradition!

*Editor's Note: Click here to visit the Finnsight Web site.

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