Step aside, Punxsutawney Phil. Here comes Muskegon’s Muskrat Frank.
The inaugural Muskegon Muskrat Day is scheduled to be held in downtown Muskegon on Tuesday, Aug. 27 at 5pm—and this fest is set to be like no other. After all, its impetus for being is…a muskrat.
Well, really, its impetus for being is to celebrate Muskegon, and the greatest season of them all: summer.
“I was thinking about how a groundhog put Punxsutawney on the map, and Punxsutawney shouldn’t get to have all the fun,” Muskegon Muskrat Day organizer and BoomTown Market owner Dana Precious said, referring to the Pennsylvania town that annually celebrates the omniscient rodent that predicts whether residents should expect an early spring or hunker down for six more weeks of winter.
But instead of being the potential harbinger of additional gray days, the all-knowing Muskrat Frank will, if he sees his shadow, be the bearer of good news: eight more weeks of summer. And that, Precious emphasized, is worth a celebration. Specifically, a celebration with Victorian and steampunk costumes (a nod to the city of Muskegon’s 150th anniversary) in front of downtown’s BoomTown Market at 351 W. Western Ave. Just make sure your steampunk revelry is paired with some modern-day summer attire.
“I thought we should wear Victorian-style dress to honor our heritage, but we should also wear floaties and flippers,” Precious said. “It’s a goofy combination of steampunk Victorian married with water wings. Think Charles Hackley top hats and water wings.”
As for why the festivities revolve around the muskrat?
“I was thinking M-U-S-K Muskegon and M-U-S-K muskrat,” Precious explained.
And the inspiration behind naming the muskrat Frank?
“Why not?” Precious laughed.
And while she will deny it all day long, we’re pretty sure Precious wanted the muskrat involved so the festivities’ theme song could be “Muskrat Love,” a 1972 song written by Willis Alan Ramsey that depicts a romantic liaison between two muskrats named Susie and Sam.
“We’ll be holding a poll if ‘Muskrat Love’ should be the official song—I’ll be voting no; I don’t think that song should’ve ever been written,” Precious said, immediately following that up with, “I would like any available accordion players to contact me so they can come play ‘Muskrat Love.’”
Because, really, how can you not love Susie and Sam the muskrats? (Though, apparently, there are plenty of people on her side: in a 2012 interview, Gerry Beckley, of the band America, which covered ‘Muskrat Love,’ said, after concerts, people will “go out of their way to thank us for not performing it.”)
But back to Muskeon’s muskrat party.
Besides blasting music revolving around anthropomorphic muskrats, Muskegon Mayor Stephen Gawron will preside over the ceremony. Of course, there will be the star of the day: Frank the muskrat. And Muskegon Muskrat Day posters and clothing.
“Mayor Gawron will announce if the muskrat sees his shadow,” Precious said. “We’ll end the ceremony, and everyone will go and drink.”
Plus, Precious said, this entire ode to Muskrat Frank is a chance to do what she loves: be creative, meet new people, and lift up her hometown.
“I spent 30 years building loyalties to corporate brands through advertising,” said Precious, who grew up in Muskegon and recently returned after living and working in Los Angeles for years. “I want to now build loyalty to our community. I want to build community.”
She wants everyone involved in this community building—including BoomTown’s neighbors like 18th Amendment, Unruly Brewing, Drip Drop Drink, Rootdown, and Rebel Pies, among others—and she wants it to be a whole lot of fun.
“I like the idea of building community, and building community doesn’t always have to be official,” Precious said. “Any person can do it.”
The inaugural Muskegon Muskrat Day will be held Tuesday, August 27 at 5pm outside BoomTown Market in downtown Muskegon. For more information, and to give the thumbs up or down to “Muskrat Love,” click here.
Story and photos by Anna Gustafson, the publisher and editor of Muskegon Times. Photos by Anna Gustafson, unless otherwise noted. You can connect with her by emailing MuskegonTimes@gmail.com or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.