Walk the Mighty Mac this Labour DaySaturday, August 24, 2013 by: SooToday.com Staff
Annual Bridge Walk is a family tradition for many
West Branch man makes his 31st consecutive walk in honour of grandfather
ST. IGNACE, MI - More than 40,000 people are expected to participate in the 56th Annual Mackinac Bridge Walk this Labor Day, including a West Branch man who has walked it every year for his entire life.
When walkers gather in St. Ignace to start walking between 7 and 11 a.m., Daniel Durm Lewis will be among them.
The 31-year-old man has participated in the event every year, although he acknowledges with a chuckle that he was probably pushed or pulled across for the first few years.
The five-mile walk was a tradition started with his grandfather, St. Ignace's Pat Durm.
For a little more than a decade, Lewis has walked with his grandfather in spirit only since his passing.
“He made sure I got there every year, even after I moved away from the area,” Lewis remembers.
“Anyone who knows me knows where I’ll be on Labor Day,” he added.
He has never walked another bridge, but 30 treks across this one qualifies him as something of an expert.
High temperatures, rainy conditions, perfect weather - he’s seen it all and says it is different every year.
Walkers have several options when it comes to transportation.
People can plant a car in Mackinaw City to use at the conclusion of the walk or use the bus transportation provided by the Mackinac Bridge Authority.
Walkers are invited to stay in St. Ignace the night before and take a bus back at the conclusion of the walk or board a bus in Mackinaw City for transportation to the starting point.
Over the years, Lewis has used a variety of transportation options, including taking a ferry to Mackinac Island at the conclusion of the walk and returning to St. Ignace after a day on the island.
Over the years, Lewis has introduced friends and other family members to the magic of the Mackinac Bridge.
“It is just a neat experience. I tell them that if they have never walked it, it is worth doing at least once,” he says.
Those who make the trek get a souvenir for their efforts - a numbered certificate of completion.
Baby strollers and wheelchairs are allowed to cross, but the Mackinac Bridge Authority has a prohibition against skates, skateboards, bicycles and pets.
So what advice does a semi-professional bridge walker share?
“Bring patience and comfortable shoes,” he says.
The shoes are for obvious reasons and patience because you’ll be sharing this experience with thousands of other people.
Lewis, of course, will be one of those thousands on the bridge.
“Grandpa put a lot of time into making sure I was there and I can’t quit now,” he says.
For those interested in walking the bridge, the event is free of charge but bus transportation costs $5 per person.
For more information, visit stignace.com or mackinacbridge.org