Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge 50th anniversary community celebration plans announced

Contact: Phil Becker, International Bridge Administration 906-635-5255, ext. 112
Agency: Transportation

May 17, 2012 -- At today's Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority Board of Directors meeting in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., bridge administration management presented an overview of community events and initiatives planned to celebrate the historic 50th anniversary milestone with the Sault communities, the United States and Canada. Some of the more significant events include:

50th Anniversary Bridge Lighting
Red and white industrial rope light strands will grace the Canadian arch portion of the bridge, while red, white, and blue strands will grace the U.S. double-arch portion of the bridge. These strands will be lit in a community celebration at dusk on Thursday, June 28.

The primary celebration site will be at the Roberta Bondar Pavilion in Sault, Ontario, with a secondary celebration site at the Sault Locks viewing area in Sault, Mich. The public announcements, dignitary comments, and festivities leading up to and including the sequenced lighting of the rope light strands by the eight Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority board members will be broadcast live from the pavilion on radio station WSOO at about 9:45 p.m. There will be a bi-national fireworks display clearly visible from both Saults following the lighting ceremony.

50th Anniversary Bridge Walk
This year's 26th annual bridge walk sponsored by both Sault chambers of commerce planned for Saturday, June 30, will be a special celebration. This event will be expanded to include a bike parade across the bridge, revolving historic digital photo displays, a 50th anniversary video presentation, and bus tours across the bridge guided by bridge staff.

"Crossing Conversations" Web site
Citizens are encouraged to help record the rich history of the bridge by contributing to a new "Crossing Conversations" portal that debuts on an enhanced and expanded Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge Web site. Starting today, citizens will be able to post, for public viewing, any experiences, stories, photos, news clippings, or memorabilia from the ferries and the bridge. The "Crossing Conversations" can be viewed at http://www.saultbridge.com/.

Traveling Historic Displays
Two displays with revolving digital historic photos and a 50th anniversary video will circulate through both cities beginning May 21. Groups and agencies interested in hosting a display at their public location for a week are encouraged to contact the display coordinator, Karl Hansen, at 906-635-5255, ext. 135, or via e-mail at hansenk@michigan.gov.

Commemorative Electronic Toll "Prox" Card Release
The bridge's historic anniversary will be commemorated with the limited sale of a distinctive 50th anniversary design Prox card, the bridge electronic toll card popular with frequent crossers. The Prox card will feature an iridescent under layer that will enhance the brilliance of the 50th anniversary graphics on the card. Card sales will begin on May 21 at the bridge office located next to the toll booths, with the standard card purchase price of $5.25.

Bridge Staff Presentations and Group Field Trips
Bridge employees are available and eager to visit schools and other group meetings to present a pictorial overview of the history of public transportation between the twin Saults that started more than 125 years ago with ferry service, and culminated in 50 years of service by the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge. Also, bridge management extends an invitation to schools and community groups to consider a group field trip to the bridge, which could include a guided tour and view of behind-the-scenes bridge operations, as well as a visit to the U.S. and Canadian Customs facilities. Those interested are encouraged to contact Phil Becker at 906-635-5255, ext. 112, or via e-mail at beckerp@michigan.gov.

Children's Coloring Book and Bridge Modeling Contest
As originally announced in March, children are encouraged to explore their creativity and artistic abilities to create and submit line drawings, as well as build models, depicting the bridge and surrounding physical features. The top submissions will be incorporated into a 50th anniversary children's coloring book that will be available on the bridge Web site. The top bridge models will be permanently mounted for public viewing at the bridge offices. Contest prizes, rules, and registration forms are on the bridge Web site at http://www.saultbridge.com/. The deadline for submissions is June 1.

Commemorative Postcards
A set of five collector's edition postcards with historic photos and celebration graphics have been created to commemorate the 50-year history and individual cards will be handed out to the public at the various celebration events.

50th Anniversary Banners and Plantings
Large anniversary banners have been placed on the steel structure above the bridge lanes near each end of the bridge. Pole banners will be placed on both the U.S. and Canadian plazas. Flower beds and other shrubbery will be planted in early June as part of 50th anniversary grounds and building beautification efforts.

October 31 Anniversary Date Celebration
It was around 3 p.m. on October 31, 1962, when the first paying customers rolled across the bridge. Since then, nearly 93 million vehicles and over $50 billion (U.S.) in trade have crossed. This anniversary date will be celebrated with free commemorative gifts given to bridge customers and a 50-year commemorative plaque unveiled at the toll plaza.

More information on the anniversary is available at the bridge Web site: http://www.saultbridge.com/. As specific details are finalized for specific events and initiatives, more information will be posted online and announced through the media.

Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge "Celebrating 50 Years of International Friendship, 1962 - 2012"