You would think that the cold and snow of a northern Wisconsin winter would serve as a reason to hide away for a few months until the spring thaw arrives. Not so in Door County.
Winter is when Door County’s character and creativity comes out to play. It starts on New Year’s Day, when the locals thumb their noses at Cabin Fever and burst outside no matter how brisk the wind chill.
In Egg Harbor residents line main street in even the coldest of temperatures every January first for the New Year’s Day Parade. It may be short, but this collection of locals laughing down Main Street has become a favorite way to kick off the new year for generations. Chief among them is Christine Tierney, a shop owner who dons a Santa Suit to lead the parade through town.
Also on New Year’s Day, hundreds gather on the shores of Jacksonport for the annual Jacksonport Polar Bear Swim. Started by J.R. Jarosh as a plunge of one 31 years ago, it has become one of the most-anticipated events of the year, with more than 800 people braving the icy waters of Lake Michigan for a cleansing start to the year.
But nothing encapsulates the vibe of a Door County winter more than Fish Creek Winter Festival. It began 30 years ago as a goofy way to break up the winter, and quickly became the centerpiece of the winter season, with thousands of visitors flocking to Northern Door County on the first weekend of February.
The spit cherry pits, toss bikes and toilet seats. A human foosball tournament has even been one of the festival’s “competitions” over the years.
It’s all part of how Door County residents find fun in the heart of winter – they make it.
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