Governor Jennifer Granholm

Governor ‘wowed’ by annual Mackinac Bridge walker

September 16, 2010 // 0 Comments

by Cliff and Nancy Hill This past Labor Day your reporters represented The Rockford Squire by participating in, for the eighth time in a row, the annual Labor Day Mackinac Bridge walk. The bridge walk tradition began in 1958 when then Governor G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams led thousands of participants across the five-mile bridge that spans the Straits of Mackinac connecting the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of the state of Michigan. In doing so, Gov. Williams began a tradition of successive governors leading this unique annual event. At exactly 7 a.m. every Labor Day morning, participants numbering anywhere from 40,000 to 70,000 begin to trek southbound across the bridge from the start in St. Ignace to the finish in Mackinaw City. They traverse the span on two lanes of the four-lane bridge that are reserved, this day only, specifically for walkers. This is the only time that the bridge is open to pedestrian traffic. Scary? You bet! But after the first crossing, many euphoric walkers resolve to make it an annual event. Be it singles, couples, families or members of a group, that first crossing leads to a tradition that is repeated year after year. So it was for us. We relish in the sense of community and achievement that one feels in walking this unique bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world, with proud Michiganders and visitors from all over the world. Being in the first wave over the bridge has its advantages, but in order to do so we had to awake in our Cheboygan motel at the terrible hour of 4 a.m., UGH. After a quick shower and a light breakfast with only a scant cup of coffee—no port-a-potties on the bridge—we drove a short 15 miles to Mackinaw City to a secret parking place. We then hoofed it a half mile to the school bus staging area where buses were waiting in line to transport walkers northbound over the bridge to St. Ignace where the walk begins. The transporting of walkers is a huge undertaking in and of itself, but after 53 years the Bridge Authority has it down to a science. This year they had 122 school buses from surrounding school districts shuttling participants continually from 7 to 11 […]