Teal Lake Melt-Down helps both entrepreneurs and local service projects

What's happening: The 2023 Teal Lake Melt-Down is setting up in Negaunee. Participants bet on when a large metal ice sculpture will break through the ice on Teal Lake. Last year’s winner, Vickie Paupore of Negaunee, was off by approximately 50 seconds from the time that the structure -- shaped like a mine shaft -- submerged into the water.

Why is it important: The event is a unique fundraiser that raises money for local charitable projects and economic development. While the winners receive 50 percent of the funds raised as a payout, the remaining profits are split 60-40 between the Negaunee Lions Club and the Greater Ishpeming Negaunee Area Chamber of Commerce (GINCC). By splitting the profits, both groups are able to approach the economic needs of the area from both a charitable service perspective and promoting sustainable local businesses. Tens of thousands of dollars have been raised in the last six years of the fundraiser. Participation has increased each year.

What they're saying: "All of a sudden (the sculpture) is out there and people talk about it, but then it slows down a bit. You start getting people really getting excited about it again in March when it starts getting warmer and that excitement starts building,” GINCC Director Bob Hendrickson said. “It really gets you excited about the change of seasons and a sign that we made it through the winter."

Maximizing the opportunity: In addition to raising money, retrieving the structure is also a learning opportunity. Marquette County search and rescue teams will treat the recovery as a training exercise, allowing the group to work on testing and training equipment like float bags and scuba materials.

What's next:  The structure will be placed on the ice this weekend by volunteers. Tickets are on sale in the Negaunee and Ishpeming areas and can be purchased online at www.gincc.org and www.negauneelions.com. Then, it’s time to wait for the big moment. The earliest the structure fell through the ice was 3:01 p.m. April 5 and the latest was 12:37 a.m. May 3.