I walked the Mighty Mac – Again

I walked the Mighty Mac

Every Labor Day for my entire life (except for the year my youngest brother was born), I’ve walked the Mackinac Bridge (pronounced MACK-ih-naw).

For those who don’t know, the Mackinac Bridge is the suspension bridge that connects the lower peninsula of Michigan with the upper peninsula. It is the fifth largest suspension bridge in the world. Each year, tens of thousands of people gather for the annual Labor Day bridge walk, including Michigan’s governor.

I love the tradition. I love the feel of walking five miles high above the water, Lake Michigan on one side, Lake Huron on the other.

It’s a tradition that’s bigger than just my family. It is a tradition that connects generations. My dad did it. My grandparents did it. Years from now (if I ever get married and have kids) my kids will do it. Even if I don’t get married, I’ll keep walking the Mighty Mac each year until I no longer can walk.

There’s something special about walking in the footsteps of your grandparents. The bridge connects Michigan, but it also connects generations in Michigan. I remember walking across the bridge holding my grandma’s hand. My brothers spent several years walking across with our grandpa.

It’s a part of a culture. A culture that walks the bridge rain or shine, wind or sun. Fall isn’t allowed to start until that bridge is crossed. It’s a culture that’s tough enough to get up early in the morning to gather for a five mile walk.

It connects those who do it. When I meet someone who has walked the Mighty Mac for a number of years, we share stories. We both remember the year the wind was so strong that the whole bridge swayed, causing everyone to stagger. We remember the years it was so cold we walked in our winter coats and scarves. And we’ll remember this year, the year it was spitting a warm rain and all the early walkers got covered with a sheen of rain.

There’s a power in that. It isn’t a religious holiday or tradition. It’s a cultural one. Something that is specific to just a small number of people.

For someone who loves traditions as much as I do, it’s strange, when I think about it, how little I remember to add them to my fantasy worlds when I’m writing. But I should make more of an effort. Traditions hold a lot of value and power. They will shape our characters and hold our fantasy worlds and cultures together.

What about you? Do you have any traditions that your family has? If you’re a writer, do you have any traditions for your characters?


Posted in Writing Advice, Writing Life and tagged , , , , , , by with 8 comments.

Comments

  • Lauren says:

    That’s beautiful. Our culture has so few real traditions that it’s always amazing to find one that’s survived for years. You’re very lucky, you know. I almost envy you.

  • Claire B. says:

    That’s an awesome tradition! So cool! Although I’d probably freak out as I don’t like heights and things that aren’t stable beneath my feet. Thanks for sharing. I got some great imagery out of this!

    • Most of the time, the bridge doesn’t sway and doesn’t even shake even with all the traffic. It’s so stable and big that even my mom (who doesn’t like heights) has no problem with it. That’s what made that one year so memorable because it is the only year it ever swayed like that (the bridge authorities actually closed the walk early because of it. We were one of the few who got on the bridge and started walking before they closed the walk, so we got to finish).

  • Sierra I. says:

    That is so cool! We went to Colorado Springs last week, and we were going to cross the Royal Gorge bridge, but it was unfortunately about $30 a person, and there are 6 people in our family, so we decided to take pictures from a distance. 🙂

  • Charisma C. says:

    That’s amazing! Walking across a 5 mile suspension bridge; I would love to do that. 🙂

    I’ve never really thought about giving my characters traditions. I’ll have to think on that more.

    My family has a tradition to do this awesome Christmas breakfast on Christmas day while opening presents. And if we can’t do that because we’re visiting family members, then we have a Christmas breakfast for dinner while opening presents. And we watch Miracle of 34th Street and/or the Bishop’s Wife (Cary Grant is just amazing!) for our family Christmas movie. :3

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