Some people try and climb Mt. Everest, other people swim the English Channel, but for those who are looking for high adventure without quite so much risk involved, there is always Michigan’s famous Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk.
The Mackinac Bridge is a marvel of modern technology and a testament to what can happen when men are determined to see their dream come true. This five mile suspension bridge that runs across the straits of Mackinac was for years thought to be impossible to build.
The idea of a bridge connecting Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas was first suggested in 1884 but it wasn’t until 1957 that the bridge was opened to traffic. In the intervening years, the idea was presented, rejected, argued about and put on hold through World War II.
Bonds sales took place, courts heard arguments, and at last in May of 1953 ground was broken for the building of the bridge. The construction of the bridge took several years, posed many problems, and when finally complete stood as a green and cream structure of Majestic proportions towering above miles of deep blue water.
In celebration of this great accomplishment, a dedication ceremony was held on Labor Day in 1958 and the first bridge walk took place with only 68 participants crossing the five mile expanse of bridge over the Great Lakes.
Forbidden to pedestrian traffic every other day of the year, the Labor Day bridge walk has become a tradition in Michigan attracting tourists from all over the country and around the world. On any given Labor Day there are fifty to sixty-five thousand people walking the bridge.
The Walk begins in the Upper Peninsula town of St. Ignace and ends at the lower peninsula town of Mackinac City with nothing between but blue skies and even bluer water. The first party to cross the bridge each year is the Governor followed by the masses. The walk starts at 7 am and the last pedestrian can step onto the bridge to begin their walk no later than 11am.
For most people, it is a two hour stroll that is both exciting and awe inspiring. It is also great fun and has become a family tradition for many of the annual walkers.
There is absolutely no fee to walk the bridge itself, though there is a five dollar fee for walkers to take the bus across the bridge either at the start or completion of their walk to their cars depending on which city (Mackinac or St. Ignace) they have parked their vehicle.
At the end of each walk participants are presented with a certificate of completion known as Walk Certificates and many people buy tee shirts at some of the stores claiming “I walked the bridge.” as mementos of this special event.
While walking the Big Mac might not have the inherent danger of climbing Mt. Everest it is an unforgettable experience for all those who have crossed this great expanse.