Each Labor Day, tens of thousands of pedestrians from Michigan and beyond gather in the Straits of Mackinac to take part in one of the state’s most significant annual events: The Mackinac Bridge Walk. This year’s event will take place on Monday, September 4.
2017 WALK DETAILS:
- NEW FOR 2017: Only busses transporting walkers and emergency vehicles will be permitted on the Mackinac Bridge between 6:30am and Noon. As a safety precaution, the bridge will be closed to all other traffic during this time.
- The Mackinac Bridge Walk begins at 7am and no one is permitted to begin their walk after 10am.
- Although the walk can be completed in about an hour, the typical walk will take about 2 hours. No running or jogging is permitted.
- A fleet of school busses takes the majority of the walkers from Mackinaw City to St. Ignace. Other walkers use the busses to return to the UP. There is no fee to walk the bridge, but there is a $5 charge for the bus. The busses run from the Old State Dock in Mackinaw City from 5:30am until 2:30pm.
- Baby strollers and wheelchairs are allowed on the bridge during the walk. The ONLY animals permitted are working service dogs.
- The following are NOT permitted on the bridge during the walk: smoking, signs, banners, umbrellas, bicycles, roller skates, skateboards, wagons and other similar devices.
- There are no rest rooms on the bridge, but there are huge banks of portable toilets at both ends.
- Upon reaching Mackinaw City, walkers are awarded a numbered “Certificate of Completion.” School busses shuttle walkers back to their cars.
The Mackinac Bridge Walk was started and took place in late June 1958 during the Bridge’s dedication ceremony, led by Governor G. Mennen Williams. That first year only 68 people walked across the bridge. The walk was changed to Labor Day in 1959, and for the first few years, participants in the walk alternated north and south in consecutive years. The St. Ignace to Mackinaw City (north-to-south) route became a constant in 1964.
In an average year, 40,000 to 65,000 people participate in the five-mile walk—nearly the combined population of the three counties connected by the bridge (Emmet, Cheboygan and Mackinac). The record number of walkers is estimated at 85,000 in 1992 when President George H.W. Bush participated. Over the past 60 years, it is estimated the collective number of walkers is over 2 million.
The “Mighty Mac” is currently the third largest suspension bridge in the world. Construction began in May 1954 (with official ceremonies taking place in both St. Ignace and Mackinaw City) and was completed in 1957. The first private car to cross the bridge—1951 Chevrolet Styleline De Luxe station wagon driven by Al Carter of Chicago—did so on November 1 that year. That vehicle is on permanent display inside the Grand Rapids Public Museum.
For information about the history of the Mackinac Bridge (including some interesting facts and figures about its size and construction, check out the official website of the Mackinac Bridge Authority.
Motorists who are delayed in their crossing of the Mackinac Bridge on Monday, September 4 are invited to explore some of Mackinaw City’s unique attractions, including (but not limited to):
- Mackinaw Bridge Museum (above Mama Mia’s Pizza in downtown Mackinaw City)
- Historic Mill Creek
- Colonial Michilimackinac
- Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse
- McGulpin Point Lighthouse
- Mackinaw Historical Society Heritage Village
- Wilderness State Park
- Mackinaw Crossings
- Icebreaker Mackinaw
- Mackinaw Trolley
- Ugly Anne Boat Cruises
- Mackinac Bay Build a Bear
- Headlands International Dark Sky Park
- Animal Tracks or Trappers Creek Mini Golf
- Adrenaline Falls Adventure Zipline
- Mackinaw Parasailing
- US23 Heritage Route (along the Lake Huron coastline)
For lodging reservations for the Labor Day weekend, or throughout the fall season, visit MackinawCity.com/stay/.