The Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) board today enthusiastically confirmed that the annual Mackinac Bridge Walk will go on as scheduled this Labor Day, Sept. 6.
Board members welcomed the end of pandemic restrictions that will allow the event, citing its importance to the Straits area economy and the eagerly anticipated return of a beloved Michigan tradition. The board heard an update from staff today about ongoing preparations for the walk during its regular meeting at Mackinac Island City Hall.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was among the first to celebrate the news.
“The Bridge Walk is back!” said Whitmer. “I am thrilled that the Mackinac Bridge Authority has enabled the Labor Day Bridge Walk, a cherished tradition, to move forward this year. After the year we have all had, I know how excited we are to get back to activities and attending events that we all love. Michigan is putting one foot in front of the other as we continue our economic jumpstart, and I am so glad that we can enjoy this great tradition to close out a Pure Michigan summer.”
The news was welcomed locally as well by Kelly Vieau, administrator of the Greater Mackinaw City Chamber of Commerce (GMCCC).
“The GMCCC is excited for the return of the Annual Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk! For more than 60 years it has been a holiday tradition for many people, young and old,” Vieau said. “The GMCCC business owners and residents are thankful it will continue on this year and hopefully for more years to come.”
Based on the success of the 2018 and 2019 events, the MBA will again start the 2021 Annual Bridge Walk from both St. Ignace and Mackinaw City, which eliminates the need for busing and offers additional options for participants. The bridge walk was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A video, posted on the MBA website at www.MackinacBridge.org/Walk, explains the bridge walk schedule and the choices people will have whether they start from the north or south ends of the bridge.
Walkers essentially have three main options, outlined in the video:
– Starting from either end of the bridge and walking toward the center, turning around at the midpoint and returning to the city they started from, where their transportation is located. The turnaround points will move toward the ends of the bridge beginning at 10 a.m., but walkers can walk at least a portion of the bridge if they start by 11:30 a.m. Walkers must be on the side of the bridge they wish to return to before 10 a.m.
– Walking the entire length of the bridge starting from either end. Those who choose this option must reach the midpoint before 10 a.m. or they will be turned back. Anyone who walks the entire bridge must arrange their own transportation back to the side they started once the bridge reopens to public traffic at noon.
– Crossing the bridge, starting from either end, and then turning around and walking back to the side they started from. In this option, walkers will need to cross the midpoint on their return trip by 10 a.m. or they will be turned back and need to find their own transportation back across the bridge after it reopens at noon.
The bridge will again be closed to public traffic during the 2021 walk, from 6:30 a.m. to noon on Labor Day, Sept. 6, based on recommendations from the Michigan State Police and U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Emergency vehicles will still be permitted to cross the bridge, but no public vehicles will be allowed until the walk concludes and participants are off the bridge.
The bridge walk has been an annual event since 1958, with the exception of 2020. The 2021 walk will be the 63rd event. Between 25,000 and 30,000 people have participated in recent years.