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A Dream, a Bridge, and a Sanctuary

Posted on December 22nd, 2015
Bridge 1

Our beautifully finished, hand-hewn covered bridge reflects in the still waters of the Thunder Bay; matching water tower sits in the picturesque background. Photo courtesy of Stacy VanOrman

Over this past summer, the citizens of Alpena were able to be a part of something magical happening. Something so unique, and so beautiful; something we will be talking about and admiring for a very long time. A very special gift has been bestowed upon the community and we’re talking about none other than our new covered bridge that connects the Duck Park to Island Park.

The build began at the first signs of spring and continued on until autumn. The process and progress was absolutely intriguing to watch and the final result is nothing short of breath-taking. And it all started with one man’s dream…his dream to bridge a community together through his love and passion to build, along with his love and passion for Alpena.

Mike Kendziorski is a family man with deep seeded roots in the Alpena community. Three years ago Mike decided to combine his passion for woodwork with his love of the Alpena community. With the help of his sons, they began their journey by constructing wooden steps, railings, trails, and fishing and viewing platforms on Island Park. With visions of a covered bridge dancing around in his head…and the approval of city officials, Mike and his sons began work to cut down the red pine, which were to be hand-hewn for the bridge. Perhaps you noticed all the logs sitting at the park for a year? This wood needed one whole year to dry before it could be carved out and constructed into our bridge.

In the meantime…something was needed at the park to efficiently water all the planted flowers. It was difficult and time consuming to haul buckets of water back and forth, so Mike proposed an idea. A wooden water tower that would match our soon-to-be covered bridge! Other than the base, the water tower in its entirety was constructed outside of Mike’s home garage and fabricated of old utility poles that were no longer in use by the power company. Taking something old, and turning it into something new and beautiful.

As construction of the bridge took progress, before the concrete for the footings of the bridge were poured, an idea emerged from a member in the community. “Let’s bury a time capsule of Alpena city life in 2015 inside the footings of the new bridge. Now is our chance before the concrete is poured.” There were only two days to make this happen! So, the word was put out via social media and within two days there were many items from people throughout Alpena which were donated to put inside of this time capsule. Everything from photos, clothing, CD/DVD’s, artwork, crafts, you name it! The time capsule was buried on July 9th, 2015, and will remain there for hundreds of years.

Now that construction is completed, you can travel to the island by this beautifully crafted, hand-hewn covered pedestrian bridge that straddles the Thunder Bay River. As you walk across, you can hear your footsteps echo on the solid wood floor and the lazy water of the Thunder Bay slowly flowing underneath. The next time you are near this corner of the city, make sure you take a few moments to lose yourself in the magic of the park, which is fully decorated to commemorate the Christmas spirit. Complete with garlands, wreaths, lighted trees, and even a Charlie Brown Christmas tree with Snoopy’s dog house. We cannot think of anything more magical than this place which brings city, art, and nature so close together.

time capsule burying

July 9th, 2015: Locals gather to bury the Alpena 2015 time capsule in the footings of the soon-to-be covered bridge.

A special thanks to the Kendziorski family for this treasure as well as the many other volunteers in the community who donated time and materials to this project; such as the stones for the landscaping, the utility poles, and the all the photos and videos that have been coming in. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!

 

P.S. Stay tuned to the Alpena News this upcoming Thursday, December 24th to catch the special edition insert on the covered bridge, “Bridging A Community”.