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Just some seventy plus miles from Chicago across the lake in Michigan, and just over a short hour’s drive by car or by AMTRAK, lie what could possibly be Chicago’s farthest sub-urbs. Home not only to thousands of summer and part-time residents from Chicago, it also has nearly 2,000 workers that regularly commute to Chicago and some even daily by train.

So we were pleasantly surprised to learn that the eight towns that compose Harbor Country, and comparable to the Hamp-tons of New York, do not turn into arctic ghost towns during the winter. Instead they boost an active agenda of activities and happenings, including a vibrant social scene with major galas that would rival anything in Chicago during this time.

First and foremost of these is the December Grand Party held in an eclectic venue just off the 94 highway as you drive in to the gateway to Harbor Country: its capital, the scenic lakeside town of New Buffalo. Every year the Grand Party grows larger and attracts partiers from locals and Chicagoans to those even from as far away as Malibu, California.

Most major local restau-rants showcase with sumptuous complimen-tary offerings and libations in addition to lively and spirited music that gets participants up and about dancing the night away. Most importantly though, is the vibrant diversity of people to watch and meet. In addition to local yokels’ in blue jeans it is not un-common to see formally attired denizens of the many local ornate Malibu type lakeside mansions frolicking about too.

Then in February, it is Beverly’s Ball in the elegant Silver Creek Event Center just outside town sponsored by the New Buffalo Business Association after their day time Winter Fest. Unlike the Grand Party, this is a more structured and subdued formal affair with a live orchestra and sit down dinner with men in suits and ties and the ladies in elegant evening attire. Still quite an event with a lot of fun people!

As far as nightlife, the local “Cheers” bar and longtime landmark, the rustic Casey’s, has had some manage-ment problems and is closed until the spring. Another local favorite and icon, The Stray Dog, burned down last year but is quickly being rebuilt with a May scheduled opening.

That leaves Frankie’s, up the Red Arrow highway from New Buffalo in the enclave community of Union Pier. It is one of those bars that you scratch your head trying to figure out what a place

like this is doing where it is, out in the middle of nowhere basically. It is very upscale and sophisticated with a smart, young, eager, efficient and

friendly staff that not only serves up tasty appetizers and dinners but libations as well.

With its classy and bright neon signs, it stands out at night against its stark, dark, rural lakeside town surroundings. It is like it was teleported out of Manhattan by some alien space-ship. And speaking of Manhattan, note well that Michigan is on Manhattan time; in other words Eastern. So remember that they are ahead one hour in Michigan in comparison to Chicago when planning your Michigan trips and activates.

As to breakfast after a long night of festivities, it still is Rosie’s downtown, the number one breakfast favorite in Southwest Michigan, with a super-efficient and fast staff in addition to sumptuous, tasty, filling, morning meals.

As to the Super Bowl, the talk of the town in Michigan was its very own Kate Upton, of the Upton’s of Whirlpool. Little cute Katie has really blossomed as a two time Sports Illustrated cover girl and now as a Super Bowl Mercedes commercial model to boot. Watch for this local favorite’s career to bloom further. When in Southwest Michigan, you never know, she could be the girl next door as she has a home in the area and is often seen at local parties and events.

As far as the upcoming summer goes, there is great concern about the low Lake Michigan and river water levels, the lowest since 1964. It has gotten so bad that a survey party on the St. Joseph River in December had to get out of their boat and walk to do their work!

But one would never know the concern that sailors have for the upcoming Season as they came from all the Great Lake states to attend the traditional kickoff party for the 104 th Mack-inac Race, known as the Pink Pony, in Chicago. Attended by hundreds, this party is one of the highlights of January and

certainly heats things up. This world class sailing race now has become known also for its ever increasing and lavish parties up to and after the July race, including the Gatsbyesque post-race party on the lawn of the stately Grand Hotel.

If you would like to receive information about upcoming VIP events, yachting, openings and other special events in Michigan, please send an email to J. P. Camden, at

Harbor Country … Chicago’s Farthest Suburb in Michigan

At the Grand Party, Cindy Hanlon and Steve Shirey of Hinsdale, Illinois and hostess-with-the-mostess Dee Dee Duhn

Brian and Kyann Keller of Logansport, Indiana celebrate Kyann's birthday at Frankie's

At Bev’s Ball, the hospitable Stacey Germain and Jan Rokley greeting arriving guests

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