ISHPEMING — It’s a sign of the beginning of the Christmas season in Ishpeming but an early morning fire on Saturday left the future of Santa’s Workshop unknown.
“Both Police and Fire responded. By the time we got here, the fire had pretty much burned itself out. It was just smoldering,” explains Steven Snowaert, Chief of the Ishpeming Police Department. “We identified the structure as being the Santa’s Workshop. We believe it was intentionally set, there’s nothing left to it, so pretty much any evidence that may have been there was probably destroyed in the fire.”
Chief Snowaert says they are looking for any information the public can provide about the arson of Santa’s Workshop as well as a large cinderblock that was thrown through the window of an old city truck just yards away.
“If anybody saw anything during the night, any suspicious activity in this area, which is known as brownstone but it’s off of 7th Street and off the Heritage Trail, we ask that they do call our police department,” says Chief Snowaert.
While the Ishpeming City Police continue to ask for the community’s help with any leads for this investigation right across the street from the department, at Hometown Service, plans are already underway for the next bigger and better Santa’s Workshop.
Brett Anttila organized the building of the original Santa’s Workshop.
“We’ll have the new one ready for this year, it won’t be a problem. We’ll figure it out somehow even if we have to work all the nights for it. It don’t matter, we’ll get it done,” says Anttila.
Anttila says he was frustrated when he first heard of the arson.
“At first I was angry and then after that I was like, “Well, we’ll build one bigger and better now, I guess,” he adds.
The new workshop is in the planning stage but Anttila says he has already had huge outreach from the community offering to help.
There is a GoFundMe page set up to collect donations for the new workshop. You can also drop off monetary donations to Ishpeming Community Events c/o Coleen Pepin, 101 N. Main St., Ishpeming, MI 49849.
Anyone with information regarding the arson or vehicle vandalism should contact the Ishpeming City Police Department by phone at (906)486-4416, by Facebook message to the department’s page, or by stopping in person.