More than 1,500 people took part in the International Bridge walk Saturday, as the annual event returned after a four-year hiatus.
The walk began 9 a.m. at the James Norris Center in the Michigan Sault and continued across the International bridge before winding up at the Marconi Hall in the Canadian Sault.
The popular event returned for the first time since 2019 due to the Covid pandemic and subsequent border closure to non-essential traffic.
A time-honored component of the event, The Bike Parade, wasn’t cancelled for this year as officials chose to focus – for this year at least – on the walk itself.
Edwin Martin, of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario has taken part in about a dozen of the previous walks. He says participation was “a little less” this year compared to most, “but now that its back numbers will keep on climbing. I just keep on coming. Very warm and humid today but I enjoyed it
Tim and Nancy VanNest have walked the Mackinac Bridge a couple of times but Saturday morning’s International Bridge walk marked a first for the Kent City, Michigan couple.
“This is great, I like it,” said Tim. Pointing over the east side of the bridge to Whitefish Island, Tim added, “I’d like to get down and walk those trails you’ve got down there, too, he said with a chuckle.
The couple love back-packing, “day hikes and overnighters,” said Nancy. “We didn’t know anything about this until after I booked the campground we’re staying at the Sault Locks. I saw the there’s an International Bridge Walk and it was “well, gotta take that in, too!”
Great summer weather was just the ticket for Mike Harris of Sault, Michigan and Carey Mills of Brimley, Michigan, who took part in their first International Bridge Walk.
The two had never met but bridges bring people together all the time, and did again Saturday morning.
Carey explained she’s worked with Mike’s sister in Michigan Sault lab the past 23 years and “I saw who he was walking with and just kind of introduced myself.”
Harris saw an advertisement in a local paper and suggested to his fishing buddy they do the walk. “So we gave up fishing to walk the bridge. It was great,” he said with a smile. “It was beautiful,” said Mills. “You get a whole other perspective from up here.”
First-time International Bridge walkers Rhonda Salenbien of Milan, MI and her boyfriend Benjamin Garman of Monroe, MI.
Ben has walked the Mackinac Bridge twice, and many others including the San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge. Rhonda walks 5-10 miles a day and roller-blades when at home. Benjamin adds they like to snow-shoe as well “if we can get the snow.”
The couple said they’d “absolutely” do the International Bridge walk, again. “Being outdoors and enjoying the nice day but (also) the great vantage point you get when you walk across a bridge like that, says Benjamin. “It’s close t