Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 2, 2012

Labor Day means much more than a long weekend

By Ed Hungness
----

---- — Labor Day is a quirky holiday. Officially it is a federal holiday which occurs on the first Monday of every September. Unlike Thanksgiving or the 4th of July, Labor Day provides a three-day weekend for the majority.

We owe a big "thank you" to the police, fire fighters, military personnel, doctors and nurses who continue to protect while the rest of us take the day off. Labor Day gives workers a day of rest and it celebrates their contribution to the American economy. John D. Rockefeller once stated, "I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living."

Labor Day unofficially marks the "end of summer." I am guessing that it is because, in Michigan schools, classes resume on Tuesday. As the last holiday of the summer, it offers an opportunity to squeeze in one more vacation or another trip to the beach. Neighborhood parties and barbecues are organized, grills are fired up and families gather together. Football season is about to begin, fall colors are just starting to show and deer season is on the horizon.

Mothers across the land look forward to Labor Day with a special zeal. Their back-to-school shopping is most likely completed. No longer will they hear, "Mom, we're bored, what can we do?" Daily squabbles and sibling rivalries will be put on the back burner and replaced by school activities and homework. Novelist Bill Dodds is quoted as having said, "Labor Day is a glorious holiday because your child will be going back to school the next day. It would have been called Independence Day, but that name was already taken."

Tomorrow, Governor Rick Snyder and I will have something in common besides our political views. It will mark the second time that we both walk across the Mackinac Bridge. He is leading the way and I will be following with the masses. Last year 36,000 of us took advantage of the annual opportunity to cross the Straits of Mackinac on foot.

The four-lane bridge is five miles long. Two lanes are closed to vehicular traffic and reserved for walkers. It is open to everyone and there is no registration or fee required. All you have to do is leave the dog at home and show up. The walk begins at 7 a.m. and proceeds from the north side of the bridge to the south side. No one is permitted to start the walk after 11 a.m., so set your alarm and get an early start.

The majority of participants park their vehicles in designated parking lots in Mackinaw City. What seems like hundreds of school buses are lined up and ready to haul walkers to the north side for a reasonable $5. Once there and unloaded, hikers may visit the sea of port-a-potties for one last opportunity to "take care of business" before striking out on their two-hour adventure. There are no bathrooms on the bridge and you are surrounded by 36,000 witnesses.

I thought the walk was surprisingly easy. You are surrounded by friendly and supportive co-walkers. The pace is relaxed and the views are spectacular. Security is abundant thanks to the men and women of the National Guard and the Michigan State Police. Before you realize it, you are in the middle of the bridge and the remaining 2 1/2 miles are a downhill breeze. Once you've crossed the finish line, you will be awarded a certificate to verify the accomplishment of completing the 2012 Mackinac Bridge Walk. It's not too late, so find a partner and we'll see you there!

Ed Hungness and his wife became full-time residents of Fife Lake in 2005 after Ed's retirement. He can be reached at edhungness@yahoo.com or by mail at P.O. Box 57, Fife Lake, MI 49633