Meet Steve and Mary E! Steve Champagne and Mary E. Rapier moved to Michigan City after a journey that brought them together by way of myspace. (remember that antiquated pre-facebook site?) Steve was born and raised in Menomonee Falls Wisconsin and obtained a BS in engineering from UW-Madison. After spending many years in Poughkeepsie NY working for IBM he went remote and came back to the Midwest. He has two sons who still live in NY. Mary was born and raised in Kankakee and is mom to 3 grown daughters and 3 grandchildren. For many years she sang for her supper while raising children before obtaining her BA and her first MAE in curriculum and instruction from Olivet Nazarene University in Education. She also has a MA in Education Leadership from Wheeling Jesuit University. She is currently employed with Michigan City Area Schools. When they are not working at their “real jobs” you will find them singing for their supper as Steve and Mary E., at local venues.
What brought you to the dunes? Mary: We got lost. Seriously, we did. We wanted to remain in Indiana after having lived in Indianapolis, Carmel area. Due to a job change I wanted to move north to be closer to Chicago and my family who lives back in Illinois. As we were perusing the Northwest Indiana corridor we came into Michigan City and drove over the bridge and could not believe how amazing Washington Park was. We headed south on Washington St., saw a for rent sign and the rest is history. It might just be the most Bohemian thing I have ever done.
Steve: It’s more like you should be asking the dunes what brought them to Mary and I.
How long have you lived here? Mary: We moved to Michigan City in May of 2008.
Steve: A little over eight years.
What is your favorite thing to do in the area? Mary: Wow, this is a tough one. I love so many things about this area. Singing in Michigan City is a high point. I love the beach, and driving up Red Arrow Highway is one of the most peaceful things to do. There are so many wonderful things to do and the people are really special.
Steve: Look West from Center St. at the train tracks, the rotating train bridge over Trail Creek, and everything else in that view.
Tell us a secret about the dunes Mary: The dunes are alive – they are alive with all of the spirits of the many visitors that ever walked along the shore line. When you let yourself feel the magic and wonder of it all it will evoke a creativity in you that is unlike anything you could ever imagine.
Steve: They’ve yet to give up any secrets to me, but that’s fine because magic tends to be more likely in the absence of knowing how things work.
Give us your top three “hidden treasures” (restaurant, shop, trail, beach, event…really anything!)
Steve: • The second floor of Fire and Water in Washington Park while performing there with Mary at sunset. • The outdoor deck of Overboard Bar and Restaurant while performing there with Mary. • The outdoor patio of Ryan’s Irish Pub while performing there with Mary.
What would you like to teach people about the dunes? Mary: I would like to teach people that the dunes are magical, mysterious and alive with possibilities. More than anything the people here are passionate and wildly creative.
Steve: It’s hard to believe they’re in the midwest.
Anything else? Mary: Everywhere I go I meet amazing people. People that are carried deep within my heart forever. I began writing poetry in 2005 after a major life changing event and it culminated with my arrival in Michigan City. I still write poetry now and then but it was here that I wrote my first book – Flower and Stone. The sunsets are profoundly amazing and I remember saying to Steve one day not long after we lived here how beautiful the sky was and that I wish I could capture exactly what I saw. To me photography just didn’t capture my vision. Steve encouraged me to paint it – to capture it. I began painting and found that between that, my song writing, music, painting and writing that I was artistically fulfilled living and working in the dunes. Steve and I find great joy in bringing our music to the North End on the South Shore.
Steve: This area is the most delightful juxtaposition of seemingly incongruent things I’ve ever experienced.
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