Before I give you the history of the "bridge walk", I want to share one of my "mother stories" with you.
Before Dan and I were married, we brought our kids (his two sons and my daughter) to Mackinac to walk the bridge. I think this was around 1981??? We'd made reservations months in advance at a motel in Mackinaw City. We arose at the crack of dark to catch a school bus (shuttle) to get to the St. Ignace side so we could participate in the walk back. Just before the crowd was "let loose", Ben, my youngest step son, asked if I had any gum. He was very anxious for some gum. I said "Are you afraid your ears will pop?" He said he wanted to spit the gum out and watch it fall through the grate and into the water below. We were walking in this throng of other walkers and when we got to the grated part, Ben took a quick look down and swallowed his gum. He didn't look down again....or over for that matter. His eyes were straight ahead the rest of the 5 mile walk.
Once you get off the bridge, you are given a certificate. We each received our certificate and headed to the Pancake House (on foot yet) in Mackinaw City for breakfast. It probably took us an hour by the time we ordered and ate. I felt pretty good for having just walked that far and eating a hearty breakfast....but the moment of truth came a few minutes later when I could hardly MOVE. OMG, did my legs and hips hurt! And I was a LOT younger then! And I was use to walking 2 miles a day. And we still had to walk about 3/4 of a mile back to the motel!
Obviously, I made it. And I would do it again, but I would have parked my car at the Pancake House and DROVE back to the motel!
Anyway, I hope you find the following info interesting! Have a great day!
The Mackinac Bridge Walk is an annual event held every Labor Day since 1958 in Michigan in which people may walk the length of the Mackinac Bridge.
Walkers are traditionally led across by the governor of Michigan, currently Jennifer M. Granholm. In an average year, 50,000 to 65,000 people participate in the five-mile walk. This is more than the combined population of the two counties connected by the bridge.
The Labor Day bridge walk is the sole exception to the rule prohibiting pedestrians on the bridge. The northbound lanes on the bridge are reserved for pedestrians—although the walkers head south—with the southbound side carrying two-way vehicular traffic.
Walkers begin on the St. Ignace side of the bridge in the Upper Peninsula and walk south to Mackinaw City in the Lower Peninsula. Upon reaching Mackinaw City, walkers are awarded a numbered "Certificate of Completion." School buses shuttle walkers back to their cars.
After 9:30 a.m. pedestrians are narrowed into just one of the northbound lanes so that the other may be opened to northbound vehicular traffic. Both southbound lanes are then given over to southbound traffic, which is heaviest on Labor Day. No one is allowed to start walking after 11:00 a.m.
The walk was started and took place in the early morning hours of Labor Day 1958. That first year only 68 people walked across the bridge.
In the early 1960s, the walk was less popular and often caused traffic jams. To raise acceptance of the event, organizers began having the governor kick off the walk, causing an increase in participation.
The population of walkers also increased some years since the walk has sometimes been used as a political event for gubernatorial or presidential elections.
During the 1992 election campaign, President George H.W. Bush led the bridge walk in an attempt to win over Michigan voters for his re-election. Participation in this bridge walk was estimated at 85,000 walkers, which is the Mackinac Bridge Walk record. In the end, Bush did not win the state's votes.
- Cathy Clementz
- A long time ago, I was a child. (I started out as Cathy First from Colon, Mi.) For the past several years I’ve been an adult. A lot of things went on between those two stages of life; probably no more or no less than anyone elses. My husband and I moved to “da U .P” from southern Lower Michigan several years ago (yes we were trolls at one time). We owned and operated and operate Clementz’s Northcountry Campground and Cabins just north of Newberry, Michigan until May 2015. We have grown kids and grandkids (who all live downstate). My passion is life and all that Nature has to offer us and trying to photograph it in unique ways. Our intention in life is to see all that Nature has to offer us. We hope that you will be a part of our adventures as we cruise through our lives together. Come back often!