Memories of 22 past Labor Days have been captured in a quilt

Photo by Isabelle Schultz
Sisters Nancy and Rita have captured 22 past Mackinac Bridge Labor Day Walk memories in their quilt.

By Isabelle Schultz

Memories of 22 past Labor Days have been captured in a quilt designed by Milan’s Nancy Jasper.
Jasper and her sister, Rita, have participated in Michigan’s Mackinac Bridge Labor Day Walk every year since 1993 with the exception of a three year break which occurred during their father’s illness.
Tee shirt patches from each visit adorn the colorful quilt which was sewn by a Jasper friend.
The sisters originally took the walk “just to say we did it” and soon became addicted to the challenge of walking the longest suspension bridge in the world.
They proudly show the 22 certificates they have received as they crossed the five mile finish line on the southern end of the bridge.
Although they lodged overnight in Mackinaw City, 175 buses from local schools were on hand to transport men, women and children, who came from all over the country, to the Upper Peninsula’s St. Ignace starting line. The walk takes about two hours, according to Nancy who noted that runners precede the walkers.
Last year some 80,000 walkers participated. Wheel chairs, walkers, strollers and service dogs are permitted. Michigan’s governor is always on hand to give the “Let’s Go” signal for early morning participants and walking continues until noon when the bridge closes for traffic. Nancy noted that President George H. W. Bush had attended the event in 1992.
The “the bridge that couldn’t be built” sometimes provides challenges depending on the weather according to the Jaspers. Wind and rain can cause the bridge to sway and hinder walkers who note it’s 500 foot towers and the Great Lakes water 200 feet below. The event was named a “no fly zone” after 9-11 and freighters are prohibited from passing under the bridge during the walk. Back packs are checked and cell phones are prohibited for security reasons.
Transportation to and from the bridge has become a challenge as the number of walkers continues to grow. Consequently, the Jaspers have decided to forego the annual walk this year. The quilt, however, remains a pleasant reminder of the many years and good times the sisters enjoyed as proud Mackinac Bridge walkers.

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