Planning Ahead for the 62nd Annual Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk – Monday, September 2, 2019
As it was for the 2018 Annual Bridge Walk, the Mackinac Bridge will be closed to public traffic from 6:30 a.m. to Noon on Monday, Sept. 2, 2019 to accommodate the 2019 Annual Bridge Walk.
The walk begins at 7 a.m. You may start walking any time after the governor’s party starts the walk at approximately 7 a.m. No one will be permitted to start after 11:30 a.m., so make sure you arrive early. There is no fee or registration required to participate in the walk and each participant will receive a numbered bridge walk certificate at the completion of their walk. Certificates will be distributed at both ends of the bridge.
This year, the walk begins in St. Ignace at the north end of the Mackinac Bridge in the Upper Peninsula, and in Mackinaw City at the south end of the bridge in the Lower Peninsula. To participate in the walk, you may:
- Walk from either end of the bridge, then turn around at the midpoint and return to the community where you started the walk. Beginning at 10 a.m., the turnaround point will be moved towards the ends of the bridge, but you may start walking up until 11:30 a.m.
- Walk from either end of the bridge and continue across to the other side. This option is most like previous bridge walks. However, since bus transportation across the bridge will not be available, walkers who choose this option will need to arrange for their own transportation back across after the bridge reopens at noon. Walkers who do not reach the midpoint of the bridge before 10 a.m. will be turned back.
- Walk from either end of the bridge, continuing across to the other side, then walking back to the end of the bridge you started from. This option will mean a 10-mile round trip for participants. If walkers in this option do not reach the midpoint of the bridge on their return trip by 10 a.m. will be turned back.
Walkers will use the left-hand outside paved lane as they walk onto the bridge, regardless of which end of the bridge they start from. Walkers who turn back at the midpoint will turn right, then return using the opposite side outside paved lane. Walkers who choose to cross the entire bridge will stay in the left-hand outside paved lane all the way across.
No bus transportation across the bridge will be available this year. Walkers who decide to walk across the entire bridge will need to arrange their own transportation back to the end of the bridge where they started – after the bridge reopens to public traffic at noon. There is limited parking space available west of the Mackinac Bridge Authority plaza area. Parking and shuttle service is being provided by the St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce and St. Ignace Visitor’s Bureau and is available at Little Bear East Arena.
Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry will again be offering direct departures between Mackinac City and St. Ignace for the 62nd Annual Mackinac Bridge Walk on September 2. Direct service between Mackinaw City and St. Ignace will begin at 5:30am. Advance tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children (ages 5-12) now through Sunday August 25. Children under 5 are complimentary but do require a ticket for boarding. Monday August 26 prices increase to $26 and $13 respectively.
Star Line Ferry is also offering shuttle service. The ferry will be departing their Mackinaw City Dock at 6:30 am going directly to our St. Ignace dock. When you arrive in St. Ignace you can walk across the street and catch the FREE shuttle to the starting area. The cost for this departure is $15 per adult and $ 8 per child (ages 5-12). Children under five years of age travel free. They will also have a boat that leaves directly from the Mackinac Island Dock at 6:00 am for those on the Island that would like to get an early start. The cost for this departure is $15 per adult and $8 per child for a one-way ticket. Cost for a round trip ticket on the same departure is $18 per adult and $9 per child.
Baby strollers and wheelchairs are allowed on the bridge during the walk. Prohibited items include signs, banners, umbrellas, bicycles, roller skates, skateboards, wagons and similar types of devices. With the sole exception of working service dogs, no animals are allowed. Walkers must stay away from bridge railings and the center mall which divides the walkers from the vehicular traffic.
The Michigan State Police and other official personnel will be available in the event of an emergency. Please note, there are no restrooms on the bridge and the average length of time to walk the bridge is about two hours. Portable toilets will be located in St. Ignace and Mackinaw City.
Except for pre-qualified, registered participants in the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness Run, no running or racing is permitted on the bridge. Playing tag on the bridge is not permitted and no smoking on the bridge, please. For information on the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness Run, please go to www.michiganfitness.org or contact the Governor’s Council at 517-347-7891.
Individuals under the age of 18 should have the permission of a parent or guardian to participate in the walk. Any two or more people walking together should make plans for a meeting place in the event that they become separated during the walk.
As in the past, persons who need reasonable accommodations due to disability may contact the Mackinac Bridge Authority by Aug. 30, 2019 at 906-643-7600. TTY users may call the Michigan Relay Center at 800-649-3777.
Those looking for accommodations over Labor Day weekend will find a list of area hotels, motels, B&Bs and other options available in Mackinaw City: https://www.mackinawcity.com/stay/
Everyone Loves a (Mackinac Bridge) Parade
Each year, a handful of special parades are held in which the participants travel across the 5-mile Mackinac Bridge. These events are fun not only for the participants, but for visitors in downtown Mackinaw City as well. Please add these dates to your summer travel calendar:
Friday, April 26 4th Annual Jeep the Mac
Last year, more than 800 Jeeps participated in this annual trek. This year’s crossing will begin at 3pm in St. Ignace with all Jeeps heading south into Mackinaw City before looping around to return to the Upper Peninsula.
Saturday, July 20 6th Annual Mustang Stampede
Celebrating the classic Ford muscle car which was first introduced in 1964. Dozens of cars will be on display from 10am-4pm in Conkling Heritage Park, followed by the bridge parade at 4:30pm. Dinner follows, with live music and the awards ceremony.
Saturday, August 3 Mini on the Mack (www.minionthemack.com)
Help break the English-held “World Record for Largest-ever MINI Cooper Parade” during this spectacular bi-annual (the current record of 1450 is held by the Surrey MINI Club Owners in the UK). In 2017, 1328 cars participated in the Straits area event (up from 1319 in 2015) and this year hopes to be the biggest group to date.
Saturday, August 24 30th Annual Corvette Crossroads
Hundreds of Corvettes are on display at the Mackinaw Crossings Mall parking lot from 10-2, with awards in a variety of categories presented at 3pm. The procession lines up at 6pm, with the crossing of the Mackinac Bridge at 7pm. All Corvettes in town are welcome to cross the Mackinac Bridge (there is a nominal fee for non-show registered ‘Vettes to participate in the parade).
Friday, September 6 12 Annual Antique Tractor Crossing (www.mackinacbridgecrossing.com)
First held in 2008 (with 614 participants), this parade feature all makes, models, shapes and sizes of vintage tractors and farm equipment from around the country (and beyond). The line-up begins in downtown Mackinaw City at 9am, with the procession traveling across the bridge to downtown St. Ignace, ending at the Little Bear Arena. Last year, over 1,300 tractors joined in the parade.
For lodging reservations throughout the summer season, visit MackinawCity.com/stay/.
17 Things You May Not Know about Pure Michigan’s Mackinac Bridge
Michigan’s famed five-mile Mackinac Bridge opened to automobile traffic on Friday, November 1, 1957 — 60 years ago! The list of facts and figures related to the “Mighty Mac” are nearly as long as the structure is itself. But, here are 17 things you may not know about this Pure Michigan icon!
- Construction began in May 1954 (with official ceremonies taking place in both St. Ignace and Mackinaw City) and in just over three years, this “Modern Marvel” was complete.The cost to design the project was $3,500,000 (Steinman Company). The cost to construct the bridge was $70, 268,500. Two primary contractors were hired to build the bridge: American Bridge for superstructure – $44,532,900; and Merritt-Chapman and Scott of New York for the foundations – $25,735,600.
- More than 11,350 men worked on various aspects of building this bridge – including 3,500 at the bridge site; 7,500 at quarries, shops and mills around the area; and 350 engineers.
- When the Mackinac Bridge was complete, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. It is now the fifth largest at 26,372 feet. The length of the suspension bridge (including anchorages) is 8,614 feet. The length from cable bent pier to cable bent pier is 7,400 feet. Length of main span (between towers) is 3,800 feet.
- The first private car to cross the bridge was a 1951 Chevrolet Styleline De Luxe station wagon driven by Al Carter of Chicago. That vehicle is on permanent display inside the Grand Rapids Public Museum.
- 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 event 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. 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 Mackinac Bridge Authority has a “Drivers Assistance Program” available 24/7 for all vehicle types. The program provides drivers for motorists who are uncomfortable with driving across the Mackinac Bridge. They also provide services for pedestrians, bicyclists and snowmobilers from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., 7 days a week, for a small fee.
- There are elevators in the towers to take workers to the top (and bottom) for maintenance purposes. There are also several opportunities each year to “win” this once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Mackinac Bridge Authority holds a drawing once per year each August, and randomly chooses 25 non-profit organizations to receive a tower tour certificate to be raffled or auctioned for charitable purposes. The certificates can be used May 1st through October 15th of the following year, and are good for two people.
- There are 4 cameras set up around the bridge, so you can watch weather and traffic no matter where you are in the world. Links are set up on the Mackinac Bridge Authority website.
- A total 609,916 vehicles crossed the Mackinac Bridge during July, 2017 (the highest number for a single month in the past 3.5 years). Over 4 million vehicles crossed the Mackinac Bridge throughout 2016. The 100 millionth crossing was recorded nearly 20 years ago on July 25, 1998.
- You can now pay your bridge fare with a credit card. The toll is $2 per axle or $4 per car for passenger vehicles (car; van; motorcycle; station wagon; SUV; pick-up truck and school bus); all others are $5 per axle (tractor trailers; buses; motorhomes; step or cub vans).
- To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Mighty Mac, local historian and author Mike Fornes published “Mackinac Bridge—A 50 Year Chronicle 1957-2007” which was named a 2008 Michigan Notable Book Winner from the Library of Michigan.
- In 2007, television star Mike Rowe brought is Dirty Jobs crew to film a segment about the Mighty Mac. They went down below the water’s surface and high above the Straits to capture the true essence of this amazing bridge. You can still watch the episode online: http://www.mackinacbridge.org/events/dirty-jobs-2007/.
- When the Mackinac Bridge was completed in 1957, the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse (built in 1889) was decommissioned as the bridge provided nautical navigation with its series of lights spanning across the Straits.
- Several organized vehicle parades are held on the Mackinac Bridge each year, including tractors, Corvette’s, Mini Coopers, Jeeps, semi-trucks and even snowmobiles.
- Each winter, ice forms on the cables and towers of the Mackinac Bridge, usually from freezing rain. When winds increase or temperatures rise, that ice can dislodge suddenly, sending sheets or spears of ice cascading down to the bridge deck below. Because of these dangers, the Mackinac Bridge Authority occasionally closes the bridge temporarily. When the bridge is closed due to falling ice, it’s a guessing game as to when it can be reopened. During the longest falling ice closure – 15 hours and 45 minutes on April 11 and 12, 2017 – temperatures hovered around freezing and new ice was forming on the bridge as soon as other ice broke free. The shortest closure was 37 minutes on Nov. 29, 2001. The bridge has closed 16 times for falling ice since 1995.
- The Mackinaw Bridge Museum, located above Mama Mia’s Restaurant in downtown Mackinaw City, was established by J. C. Stilwell, who was one of the Ironworkers who built the bridge. It is open seasonally, spring through fall, and is free to visit.
- For additional 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. You can purchase 60th Anniversary commemorative posters from the Mackinac Bridge Authority on the website.
Have you ever crossed the Mackinac Bridge? If not, we suggest you add it to your travel bucket list!
For lodging reservations throughout the remainder of the fall and into the winter season, visit MackinawCity.com/stay/.