ST. IGNACE, Mich. (MIRS News) – Former Gov. G. Mennen Williams was the first governor to lead the walk across the Mackinac Bridge in June 1958, a tradition that was later moved to Labor Day and was continued for 57 continuous bridge walks until Monday.

A tweet from the Gov. Gretchen Whitmer campaign said she attended a union event instead of leading the 65th Annual Mackinac Bridge Walk. Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II led the procession in her stead.

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“There are many great events across the state that recognize the contributions of hardworking men and women on Labor Day,” said Bobby Leddy, spokesperson for the Governor’s Office.

.@gretchenwhitmer stands with workers.

— Team Whitmer (@TeamBigGretch) September 5, 2022

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Mackinac Bridge Authority Bridge Director Kim Nowack said 26,000 people showed up to cross the bridge with Gilchrist.

“It was an honor to represent the state of Michigan at the 65th Annual Mackinac Bridge Walk,” Gilchrist said. “This Labor Day, I am proud to celebrate the dedicated union laborers who built the Mackinac Bridge and united our two peninsulas.”

The event typically has between 20,000 to 30,000 people cross, and this year that included GOP gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon, who walked with Rep. John N. Damoose (R-Harbor Springs).

What an incredible (windy) walk across the Mackinac Bridge this morning with my family and @DamooseForMi!

And of course, we had to stop at @Mackinaw_Bakery for some delicious donuts 🍩

— Tudor Dixon (@TudorDixon) September 5, 2022

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The first walk was held nearly a year after it first opened to traffic on Nov. 1, 1957, but was not held on Labor Day. It was moved to Labor Day in 1959.  A record number of people walking the Mighty Mac was set in 1992 when former President George H.W. Bush participated with then-Governor John Engler.

Nov. 1 will be the 65th Anniversary of the opening of the Mackinac Bridge, but because of the walk having been canceled in 2020, there have only been 64 walking events, according to James Lake, the spokesperson for the Mackinac Bridge Authority.

“The Mackinac Bridge Authority was very pleased that the Lt. Governor could attend this year and lead another successful bridge walk,” Lake said.

Tweets from a campaign member for Whitmer said she attended events with the Service Employees International Union, American Federation of Teachers Michigan, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Operating Engineers 324 in Detroit, instead of leading the walk.