Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk

Speaking of Bridge Walks, Governors, and statues

September 15, 2011 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL For the ninth year in a row your locally owned and original hometown newspaper, The Rockford Squire, was present Labor Day morning to participate in the 54th annual Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk. Wanting to be in the first wave of walkers on Labor Day morning, we awoke at 4 a.m. in the middle of the night to drag ourselves out of bed, shower, down ½ a bagel (Herman’s Boy, of course) with ½ cup of bad motel coffee and head off to the bus staging area to grab a seat on the first group of 5 buses to transport walkers across the Mighty Mac to the walk’s origin in St. Ignace in the U.P., eh. A throng of 36,000 people was on hand to walk the bridge that morning, down from 42,000 in 2010. The lesser number perhaps, was the result of the poor economy, high gas prices, unseasonably cool and windy weather, or a combination of all three. Never the less, the traditional bridge walk faithful always show up, some year after year, to participate in what for many is an event on their “bucket list”. So promptly at 7 a.m., following a select group of Michigan runners, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, along with an entourage of 100+ staff and supporters, headed off over the bridge towards the finish line in Mackinaw City aided by a strong wind at their backs. This wasn’t a political event, but never the less, the Governor and his party all sported lime green t-shirts with a sprinting dog and the words, “We work in dog years.” For the uninitiated the analogy was meant to convey that the Governor and his party had accomplished more in one year than previous administrations had accomplished in seven. You know the old expression; “a dog lives the equivalent of seven human years in one year of its life”. Shortly after the start of the walk, your reporters overtook and worked their way through the governor’s party. Being very competitive, we found ourselves with a select few people striving to reach the walk’s finish line in their personal best time. Toward that goal, we achieved admirably, finishing the 5-mile walk in 59 minutes, 36 seconds. Our bridge […]

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 […]