2017-04-20 / Front Page

Jeeps Will Cross Bridge This Friday

By Erich T. Doerr

Fun on and off the road will be the name of the game in the Eastern Upper Peninsula this weekend as the second annual Jeep the Mac all-Jeep crossing of the Mackinac Bridge rolls into St. Ignace. The Jeeps will parade from St. Ignace’s Little Bear East Arena south across the Mackinac Bridge to Mackinaw City at 3 p.m. Friday, April 21, then returning to St. Ignace, before heading out to Drummond Island for a day of fun Saturday, April 22.

Jeep the Mac serves as a kickoff to St. Ignace’s event season that will last throughout the rest of the spring and summer. Registration has been very strong for the event with more than 450 Jeeps and 960 people already registered by the middle of last week, said St. Ignace Visitors Bureau Executive Director Gina Stegehuis said, and an average of about 10 registrations still coming in each day. The inaugural crossing in 2016 had 417 Jeeps. Registration for the crossing will be open throughout the week right up until the day of the event, including on-site registrations at the Little Bear before the crossings.

“We are ahead of schedule on almost everything,” Mrs. Stegehuis said. “We are getting a lot of phone calls. There is a ton of excitement for this one…We are ready for summer time and our event season kicking off.”

Jeep the Mac is open to all Jeepbranded vehicles from the past and present. The only restrictions for vehicles taking part in the crossing is that they must be street legal, licensed, and running on tires not exceeding 40 inches in height. The majority of those registered for the event are from Michigan. The entry fee for this year’s crossing is $35 per person for adults and $10 for children aged 10 and younger. The fee includes Mackinac Bridge and Drummond Island ferry fares, drink coupons for a celebration after the crossing, a dash plaque, a casino voucher, local coupons, and access to a shuttle service, awards, and giveaways.

Jeeps will start staging at 10 a.m. at Little Bear for Friday’s crossing, with the process continuing through 2 p.m. There will be a mandatory driver’s meeting before the crossing at 2:30 p.m. that will also include a blessing of the Jeeps. A formal display of the Jeeps is not planned as part of this weekend’s festivities, but those who want to see them before the parade can check them out in the arena parking lot before their departure.

Friday’s staging period will see a special fundraiser take place for the Mackinac County Child Protection Roundtable, which will sell coffee, doughnuts, and water from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Little Bear East.

The Jeeps will depart on their journey to the bridge at 3 p.m. The procession will start at the arena, then use Marquette Street and State Street in downtown St. Ignace before crossing the Mackinac Bridge. Those wishing to watch the Jeeps on their journey are recommended to find a spot anywhere downtown.

Once the Jeeps cross from the Upper Peninsula to the Lower Peninsula, drivers are free to do whatever they please, turning around to return to St. Ignace or stopping to enjoy Mackinaw City. There is no programming or parade planned in conjunction with Jeep the Mac in Mackinaw City this year. Participants returning to the St. Ignace arena will have live music, appetizers, and drinks of all kinds available at Little Bear East from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. A shuttle bus service running throughout St. Ignace will be available for ride participants from 10 a.m. Friday to 2 a.m. Saturday, allowing drivers to park their Jeeps and use an alternative form of evening transportation.

Most of the action Saturday will shift east to Drummond Island, where 117 miles of ORV trails await, some of which are specifically designed for Jeeps. Rides on the trails can begin at any time Saturday. The Drummond Island Tourism Association is organizing a Spring Jeep Migration Bash from noon to 8 p.m. including Jeep photograph booth, historic Willys Jeeps on display, live music, a raffle, and parts vendors. An awards ceremony will conclude the day’s activities from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The majority of Jeeps are expected to head out to Drummond Island Saturday, but for those who stay in the Straits area a scavenger hunt will be available. Entrants will receive six GPS coordinates with the challenge being to go out and find some special Jeep the Mac signs. The signs will be located throughout Mackinac County, with the trip taking some out toward Epoufette and the Heath Michael Robinson Cut River Memorial Bridge. The completed sheets from the hunt can be turned in at the Mackinac Grille Restaurant from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, April 23, with the winners being contacted by telephone later. A different scavenger hunt will also be available on Drummond Island Saturday.

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