Yoopers in the Big Apple

Love the Upper Peninsula

The following post is an interview with the Cattani family from Menominee. A few weeks ago I was in the middle of my morning routine when I started receiving e-mails and tweets that Yooper Steez shirts were spotted on the Today Show on NBC. I thought it would be a fun post to interview them about their trip to NYC and what it was like to be on the Today Show and actually be interviewed by one of the correspondents. Not to mention exploring a city with 27 times the population of the entire U.P., crammed into an area 35 times smaller than the U.P.

<dt><strong>UPSCo:</strong> If you don’t mind sharing, what do you and your family do in the Menominee?</dt>
<dd><strong>Mary:</strong> Mike is a principal in the Menominee public schools, I am a technologist in the hospital microbiology lab, Katie is a junior in high school, and Nick is in 8th grade.</dd>

<dt><strong>UPSCo:</strong> Are you natives to the U.P.?</dt>
<dd><strong>M:</strong> Yes. Mike grew up in Caspian and Mary in Stambaugh. We have lived in Menominee for 25 years.</dd>

<dt><strong>UPSCo:</strong> It seems that not many Yoopers make it to the NYC, was this your family’s first trip?</dt>
<dd><strong>M:</strong> It was our first time as a family, though both Mike and I had been there once before.</dd>

<dt><strong>UPSCo:</strong> What was your most memorable experience in the city?</dt>
<dd><strong>M:</strong>  Climbing the stairs within the Statue of Liberty to peek out the windows of the crown.</dd>
Mike: Walking around Times Square and going to the see “The Adams Family” with Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane on Broadway.

<dt><strong>UPSCo:</strong> How about your kids, what were they most impressed by?</dt>
<dd><strong>M:</strong> The Statue of Liberty and China Town</dd>

<dt><strong>UPSCo:</strong> I hear NYC is just a little different than the Upper Peninsula. Besides the obvious, what differences did you notice between the Yoopers and New Yorkers?</dt>
<dd><strong>M:</strong> First, there were many, many foreign tourists – we were surprised at how many people were speaking foreign languages. People on the street are not as openly friendly as in the UP – they go about their business without looking at anyone they pass on the street.</dd>

<dt><strong>UPSCo:</strong> So, you were on the Today Show, that had to be pretty incredible. Did you ever think you’d be one of the people that was interviewed?</dt>
<dd><strong>M:</strong> It was pretty neat. We hoped to get on camera at some point, but didn’t expect to be interviewed.</dd>

<dt><strong>UPSCo:</strong> That morning I started getting e-mails reporting that Yooper Steez shirts were spotted on the Today Show. Was it part of the plan when you bought the shirts?</dt>
<dd><strong>M:</strong> Actually, we bought the shirts quite a while ago, and wore them in Orlando first. But as soon as we decided to go to NYC and to the Today Show, we knew we would be wearing the Yooper Steez shirts!</dd>

<dt><strong>UPSCo:</strong> Anybody ever ask what that is on your shirt?</dt>
<dd><strong>M:</strong> Yes! They have gotten a lot of attention! Even people who don’t say anything, look as they pass, and you know they are trying to figure it out. In Orlando, we met people from Escanaba and Watersmeet because we were wearing the shirts. A few others have recognized the shape of the UP and told us that they had ties to the UP. One person asked if was a bat, another a rabbit, and several others wondered, “What IS that?”</dd>

<dt><strong>UPSCo:</strong>  That’s funny, I’ve gotten Cuba a couple of times. How about the NBC correspondent, Stephanie Abrams, did she know what the U.P. was or ever hear of Menominee?</dt>
<dd><strong>M:</strong> She knew right away that it was the outline of the UP. She had never heard of Menominee, and had quite a difficult time pronouncing it, despite trying numerous times.</dd>

<dt><strong>UPSCo:</strong> What advice would you give other Yoopers who might want to step out of the rural U.P. and into the Big Apple?</dt>
<dd><strong>M:</strong> It’s a great place to visit! Don’t plan to drive in the city – either fly or find a place to park outside the city and take public transportation into the city. A bus tour is a great way to see a lot, and it will help you get your bearings before venturing out on your own. Get a good map of the city before you go or when you first arrive to help you find your way – it’s easy to find your way around. Don’t be afraid – there is a very noticeable police presence – there was never a time when we didn’t feel safe. Order tickets online to go to the crown of the Statue of Liberty as soon as you have your travel dates – they sell out several months in advance. If it’s too late to get those, try for monument access tickets.</dd>

<dt><strong>UPSCo:</strong> On the other hand, what advice would you give New Yorkers who might want to visit the U.P.?</dt>
<dd><strong>M:</strong> The parks in NYC are lovely, but nothing compared to the wide open natural spaces in the UP. Plan to allow yourself to leave the frenetic pace of the city behind, slow down, and really relax!</dd>
Today Show with Ann Curry

With Ann Curry

Today Show with Stephanie Abrams

With Stephanie Abrams


Big thanks to the Cattani family for sharing their story.

Readers, have you been to New York City? Any desire to visit? Share your comments.

And by all means, if you have a story about wearing your Yooper Steez shirts share those in the comments or contact me.