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Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum,mackinac bridge,Snowmobile the Mack

CANCELLED: 5th Annual Snowmobile The Mack To Take Place December 14th

UPDATE: This event has been cancelled due to Covid-19.


This coming December 14th, the 5th Annual Snowmobile the Mack event will take place when a parade of snowmobiles will again be seen crossing the Mackinac Bridge. The event started about 5 years ago. Back then, Charlie Vallier, one of the Directors and Founders of the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum, in Naubinway, was at the annual Tractor Crossing of the Mackinac Bridge, which is part of a series of events held on the Mackinac Bridge, in which a wide variety of different machines cross over. Like, they do a Jeep The Mack, and a ORV crossing, and then, the Tractors.

So, as I started to say, Charlie was down at the Tractor Crossing of the Bridge. He, and the Museum, had been invited to participate. Their role was to hold a small Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show as part of the Tractor Show. This was held at the Little Bear Arena in St. Ignace.

At the show, in an attempt to draw some attention, Charlie and Ron Durepo had put “wheel kits” on a couple of sleds and were driving them around the parking area. While they were doing that, pretty much jokingly, someone said, “We should do a snowmobile crossing of the Bridge.” Everyone laughed. Then, kind of looked at each other, and went, “Why not!”

This was in late summer. But, it sounded like a good idea. So, Charlie and the gang got busy. They talked to the people they needed to talk to. They got the Permits and stuff. They partnered up with the St. Ignace Visitor’s Bureau. And, within a few weeks, it looked like this was going to actually happen.

But, Charlie, Marilyn, and the rest were a bit nervous. They were wondering if anyone was actually going to participate. Given the very short length of time they had to prepare. They were wondering if anybody had even heard about this.

Then, the day of the 1st Annual Snowmobile the Mack came upon them. And, wonder of wonders, in a bit of pre-Christmas Magic, people actually did show up. About 65 sleds took place that first year.

But, there were enough to call the idea a success. So, the event continued. Now, for the past few years, numbers have leveled off at about 100 sleds per year. Now, that first year, the ride ended at a local eatery. But, they quickly outgrew that. Now, on a normal year, a nice lunch is held at the Little Bear Arena. So, they are basically back to the birth place of the Crossing.

Also, five years in, they have gotten this pretty much down. What they do is get everyone gathered up under the Bridge, on the Mackinaw City side. Riders drive their sleds down, and leave them. Then, bring back the trucks, trailers, and whatevers to the Welcome Center. Then, the organizers have rides for them to get back to the land down under.

There, everyone visits for a bit. And, prepares. Then, when everyone is ready, they head out. Single file, across the Bridge. Now, if you are worried that tried and true vintage sled may get tired and turn you blue, don’t. Most of the sleds make it across without issue. But, every year, a few need a bit of help, from the Trailer of Shame. (I think they just freeze up-afraid of heights.) So, they have that bit down as well.

Then, after all is done, they all end up back at the Little Bear. As noted, normally, they have a nice lunch and then disburse. But, this year, with the Covid stuff, they might have to nix the lunch. Marilyn told me they are talking a sack lunch. Which, for me, does not make a lot of sense. Like, it’s OK to stand about and visit in the parking lot. But, we can’t go inside and stay warm and eat and visit. But, we have to play the hand we are dealt. So, it is what it is.

Anyway, if you want to come and wash something off that bucket list. Or, do something that you didn’t even think was on that list, give this a go. Just a lot of fun. A lot of old snowmobile stuff. Also, a few of the riders have started to wear costumes. Like in the Polar Plunge type costumes.

For example, if you are on the Bridge, and see Big Bird, you don’t have to check your exhaust. Not to many fumes. Just Rich Hotz. Also, just FYI, give Rich a “thumbs up” if you see him. He provides “chicken on a stick” and other treats each year at the Museum’s annual Vintage Ride. For no charge. Real good guy.

Next, there are a few rules. First, sleds have to be at least 25 years old, or older. (Good grief, getting to the point where half my clothes would qualify.) Also, sleds have to have “wheel kits” with wheels at least 2” wide wheels. So they don’t get stuck in the expansion cracks, on the Bridge. Next, driver have to be at least 12 years of age, with at least a Snowmobile Safety Certificate, or, if old enough, a Driver’s License. Also, passengers are allowed. Also, a parachute is… Naw… That was just me trying to be funny. But, if you have the extra spouse you… Naw, on that, too.

About the Snowmobile Crossing of the Bridge, Charlie stated, “We welcome everyone. This is a whole lot of fun. We have people coming from all over Michigan, and even other States. Also, this year, if you don’t have a wheel kit, we have a guy that is making them. And, if you are a member of the Museum, then he will take the cost of your membership off the price of the kit. So, we invite anyone that is interested to get hold of us, or the St. Ignace Visitor’s Bureau, and sign up.”

Now, the cost is $35. This includes lunch and fees. And, commemorative shirts will be available. Also, all money raised over and above the costs will go towards the Museum.

You can call the Musuem at 906-477-6298 or find them online. Same with the St. Ignace Visitor’s Bureau. Contacting them online would work the best for them.

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