Northern Hospitality – Mackinaw City Steps Up After U.P. Elementary Students Stranded Due to Bridge Closure
One of the things about living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is that you will, inevitably have to cross the Mackinac Bridge a time or two. Usually, it's fine and you can take in the breathtaking views of the Straits of Mackinac. Sometimes, there are wind advisories and it can get a little hairy.
On Thursday, another hairy situation presented itself when the bridge was closed down for nearly twelve hours due to falling ice.
In fact, at the time of the writing of this article, the bridge is closed AGAIN.
Why Do They Close the Mackinac Bridge?
The answer is relatively simple. When it starts to get up above freezing after a long winter, the ice that has formed on the towers and cables of the bridge starts to melt. And then it starts to fall. Those chunks of ice can a) make the bridge deck slippery, and b) cause some major damage to vehicles.
Pickford Elementary School Gets Stranded
Over 200 students from Kindergarten through fifth grade from Pickford Elementary School in Michigan's Upper Peninsula happened to head south of the Mackinac Bridge on Thursday for a field trip. Little did they know that this trip would turn into a bit of an adventure.
Mackinaw City Steps In To Help
While it's unclear where they were during the early parts of the day, they ended up spending the entire evening in Mackinaw City. Luckily for the students, staff, and chaperones, the people of Mackinaw City stepped up to make sure that it wasn't a traumatizing time for the kids. A local school opened its doors to the kids so that they could let off some steam in their gym. When it became apparent that they were going to be in Mackinaw City for the long haul, something even more amazing happened.
A local hotel owner, Enzo Lieghio, opened up his establishment (which was closed for the winter), the Mackinaw Beach and Bay Hotel, to the stranded students and staff so that they would have a warm place to be and sleeping accommodations should this turn into an overnight adventure.
Several local businesses stepped in to provide pizza and snacks for the kids.
When Did The Mackinac Bridge Reopen?
While the school spoke to the Mackinac Bridge Authority and asked them if they could get an escort across the bridge so that they could get their students home safely. The Authority, unfortunately, couldn't let that happen, telling the school that it was "absolutely not a possibility."
Thankfully, the bridge reopened around 10:40 p.m. on Thursday and the busses were able to get in line to make the journey back across to the U.P.
At this point, Pickford had already made the call to cancel school for the following day.
To the relief of everyone involved the busses loaded with students pulled up to Pickford Public Schools shortly after midnight and the kids were able to return home with their parents.
While this may not have been the field trip those students were planning on, I'm sure that it's one that they'll remember for years to come.
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