This month my article is about a truck show and convoy that epitomizes “The Spirit of the American Trucker” in a big way. Having recently attended the 18th Annual Richard Crane Memorial Truck Show in St. Ignace, Michigan and participating in the first-ever “Street Petes Convoy” to the show, I was really impressed with both events. St. Ignace is so far north that sub-zero temperatures are a regular occurrence, yet they still manage to make a decent living from tourism in just a few summer months – it’s that beautiful there. The “Parade of Lights” that takes place during this show is the biggest event of the year – and the last one before winter.
This year, my friends, the Mitchells, used Facebook to organize the first-ever “Street Petes Convoy” to the show. About thirty trucks met up in Grayling, MI 100 miles south of St. Ignace the day before the show started, and from there, they trucked up I-75 together. It was awesome! Thanks go out to independent trucking filmmaker Chris Fiffie for coming up from Florida and filming the entire event while simultaneously interviewing the drivers, while they drove, on the CB radio. I can’t wait to see the finished video!
When we got to St. Ignace, the mayor of the town himself invited us to a buffet of hot food and ice cream – yes, that’s how they treat truckers up north! The next day, as the show got started, they tried to park as many trucks as possible on the main waterfront street, which is a “special” thing this show offers – there is nothing sweeter than amazing trucks and trailers parked in front of historic buildings. This also made for some great interaction with the public as they walked the waterfront, checked out the trucks, and talked to their owners. This truck show is different than others – it’s not about show trucks, it’s about drivers who take pride in what they drive, and they are there to chat.
Of course, all of this is just the warm-up to the biggest attraction this truck show has to offer – the “Parade of Lights” over Mackinac Bridge. There are a lot of light parades these days, but only one that crosses the fifth longest suspension bridge in the world. The Mackinac Bridge, which is five miles long, is closed to the public and only the trucks – 144 of them this year – are allowed to roll over the bridge, with all of their lights ablaze (except their headlights), and then on into downtown St. Ignace where about 25,000 people are sitting along the street waiting to see the incredible spectacle.
It costs a tremendous amount of time and money to put this event together, but as one of the spectators said, “All of these guys and their families are awesome for taking the time out of their work days to be in the parade and entertain us bystanders who can only dream about driving a big beautiful rig like they do.” In regards to the Convoy, organizer Dennis Mitchell said, “We’ll do it better next year – because no matter how big we are, we’re never too big to encourage and excite the little kids!” Be sure to become a fan on Facebook (Street Petes Convoy) and stay tuned for the details of next year’s event. Help us keep “The Spirit of the American Trucker” alive and well, because if we don’t do it, who will?