Sunday, July 07, 2013

Videos, photos: Italian Hall Ceremony in Calumet

By Michele Bourdieu

Keweenaw National Historical Park Superintendent Mike Pflaum welcomes visitors to the Italian Hall Ceremony on June 20, 2013. Standing at left is Dave Geisler, Calumet Village president, and seated behind the speakers' podium are, from left, Jim Kurtti, Finnish American Heritage Center director at Finlandia University and Honorary Consul to Finland for the Upper Peninsula; Paul Lehto, Calumet Township supervisor; Tom Tikkanen, Main Street Calumet executive director (not visible); Eva Torstila (not visible); Pertti Torstila, Finland's Secretary of State; Rev. Robert Langseth; and Larry Lankton, Michigan Tech professor of history. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

CALUMET -- A large crowd gathered at the site of the 1913 Italian Hall disaster in Calumet on June 20, 2013, for a ceremony honoring the 73 victims, mostly children, who who were crushed to death in the stairwell of the Italian Hall when someone yelled "Fire" -- a false alarm -- during a Dec. 24, 1913, Christmas Party for the children of striking miners. The event, co-sponsored by the Keweenaw National Historical Park and the Village of Calumet, was part of Calumet Day during the recent FinnFest USA. Keweenaw Now presents some video clips and photos of the ceremony.

On June 20, 2013, the Turun Metsänkävijät Wind Band of Turku, Finland, plays the National Anthem of the U.S.during the Italian Hall Disaster Site Commemoration in Calumet, Michigan. (Video clips by Keweenaw Now)
 
The Turun Metsänkävijät Wind Band of Turku, Finland, plays the National Anthem of Finland at the Italian Hall Disaster Site Commemoration in Calumet, Michigan.

Pertti Torstila, Finland's Secretary of State, speaks at the Italian Hall Disaster Site Commemoration on June 20, 2013, in Calumet, Michigan. Torstila speaks in English, expressing his appreciation for the opportunity to hear the story of Italian Hall and the role of Finnish immigrants to the Copper Country. He also offers a brief message in Finnish to the people of Finland.

Assisted by the Calumet High School Junior ROTC Color Guard, Calumet Village President Dave Geisler and Finland's Secretary of State Pertti Torstila lay two memorial wreaths at the Italian Hall Disaster memorial arch from the doorway at the Italian Hall. The arch is all that remains of the building and serves as a monument at the site of the tragic event that occurred here on Dec. 24, 1913.

Calumet Village President Dave Geisler recounts what occurred outside the Italian Hall on Dec. 24, 1913, after people learned about the tragedy -- especially parents looking for their children -- and how the bodies were taken in procession to the Calumet Village Hall. He invites the audience to follow the Turku (Finland) Wind Band in a commemorative procession along that same block of Elm Street and to visit the exhibit of historic photos set up in the Village Hall.

Following the commemorative ceremony at the Italian Hall Memorial, the Turun Metsänkävijät Wind Band from Turku, Finland, leads a procession along Elm Street from the location of the historic Italian Hall to the Calumet Village Hall -- in memory of the procession of mourners on Dec. 24, 1913, when the bodies of 73 victims of the Italian Hall tragedy were taken to be laid out in that same hall.

A historic photo of the funeral for the Italian Hall victims, which was held on Dec. 28, 1913.

Historic photo of some of the coffins of the victims. White coffins are those of children, who were the majority of the victims.

After the Italian Hall Ceremony, visitors view a display of historic photos related to the tragedy. In the foreground is a photo of the Italian Hall as it existed in 1913.

More photos:

The Turun Metsänkävijät Wind Band of Turku, Finland, and the Calumet High School Junior ROTC Color Guard (right) participate in the June 20, 2013, Italian Hall Ceremony in Calumet.

The Rev. Robert Langseth speaks during the Italian Hall Ceremony.

Members of the Turun Metsänkävijät Wind Band of Turku, Finland. At right is one of two memorial wreaths that would be laid at the Italian Hall arch to honor the victims.

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