2017-08-31 / Front Page

Bridge walk traditions continue, for now

Walks over bridges — and creek
By Patti Brandt Burgess
Of The Enterprise staff

Leelanau County, the place for bridge walks, may lose a 22-year Labor Day tradition.

So says Bill Thompson, who with his wife Dottie started the Glen Arbor Bridge Walk in 1995 and has been in charge of it ever since.

But Thompson is getting a little tired of the work involved and hopes someone will step up to take over.

“I hate to see it end,” Thompson said. “It is fun. People like it.”

Bridge walks around the county and state that include the Big Kahuna of bridge walks — the Mackinac Bridge Walk — typically put the exclamation mark on the end of summer.

For some, that means taking a deep breath and looking forward to some much needed rest from a busy summer of helping tourists.

“Here in Suttons Bay we had a great summer,” said Kevin Klockziem, property manager for the M-22 Inn, formerly the Red Lion. “I’m ready to take a breather and enjoy a little slower time, though we’re still busy on the weekends.”

The motel is owned by David Gersenson, who also owns the M-22 Inn and the Sylvan Inn in Glen Arbor.

“All of our properties are full for the holiday,” Klockziem said.

The Homestead in Glen Arbor is also booked up for the weekend, said Jamie Jewell, director of sales and marketing for the resort.

“Summer was great,” Jewell said. “A little cool and rainy, but still a great summer.”

The weather forecast for the coming weekend calls for partly sunny skies with highs in the low to mid-70s.

That’s good news for the Glen Arbor Bridge Walk, which starts at noon. Walkers should gather on the north side of the bridge across from the On the Narrows Marina on Glen Lake.

Thompson said the bridge walk started as a take-off on the Mackinac Bridge Walk and has been the impetus for several other bridge walks around the county, including Leland, Lake Leelanau and Northport.

“Not everyone can go to Mackinac and not everyone can walk five miles, but they can walk .3 miles,” Thompson said.

He remembers the year a woman who was using a wheelchair was pushed to the starting point of the bridge. She got out and walked across before sitting back down in the chair again, Thompson said.

T-shirts commemorating the event have also been sold every single year. This year they can be purchased for $20, with proceeds benefiting Cub Scout Pack 111. Hot dogs and brats will be provided after the walk by the Compass Rose Bakery on West MacFarlane Road.

One of the more recently inspired bridge walks is in Omena, at the home of Julie Krist, 13140 Isthmus Road. The just-for-fun walk starts at 9 a.m. and consists of about three steps.

“It’s just across a stream in our back yard,” Krist said.

The Leland Bridge Walk will have decidedly different look this year when several schoolchildren dress up in trade uniforms.

The idea to put the ‘labor’ back in Labor Day at the annual event came from Ashley Suttman, who teaches first and second grade at Leland Public School.

“I thought it would be cute for kids to dress up to represent any type of profession — farmers, construction workers, doctors ... whatever they want,” Suttman said.

Suttman is looking for children to participate in the bridge walk, saying that when she came up with the idea she didn’t realize how many families would be out of town.

Any elementary-aged child is welcome, she said, and must wear their own job-themed costume.

“It will be a little bit of a traditional walk with more of a focus on labor,” said Patricia Soutas-Little, chair of the Committee for Holiday Excitement, which is planning the bridge walk.

The Leland Bridge Walk starts at noon and will be led by Keith Burnham and his dog Biscuit. It will also feature the color guard from VFW Post 7731 of Lake Leelanau.

People should line up in the parking lot behind the Bluebird Restaurant. The walk ends at the Old Art Building, and lemonade supplied by the Leland Mercantile will be served.

All those who make the walk will be given frameable certificates of participation.

In Lake Leelanau the fourth annual Bridge Walk will have people walking across the Narrows bridge from west to east, beginning at 9 a.m.

Participants should gather at Figs Restaurant, the former Redheads. They’ll end the walk at the Pedaling Beans Coffeehouse, where they can purchase coffee and other breakfast treats.

While the bridge event doesn’t raise any money, it may bring attention to the fact that the bridge across the Narrows needs to be more pedestrian friendly, said Madeline Houdek, treasurer of the Lake Leelanau Community Association.

“Community stuff — that’s what we’re all about,” Houdek said.

More than 30 people have traversed the bridge in previous walks, said Houdek, and she hopes to top that number this year.

She also wants to remind folks that the walk is pet-friendly.

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