For nearly three decades, visiting Mackinac Island with groups of students has been an annual spring pilgrimage for now-retired teacher Tom Byrum. But not this spring. With the COVID-19 pandemic closing schools and delaying the island’s opening, Byrum won’t be able to take those kids on the trek north.
At least, not yet.
For one group, Byrum already has rescheduled the trip to Mackinac Island for later in the year. Instead of traveling to Mackinac Island in May, Byrum now plans to lead a group of third graders and their families on a visit in September when school hopefully resumes. The kids will be fourth graders by then, but Mackinac Island of course will still be the same magical place that has attracted Byrum and groups of students in past years.
Although the rescheduling has shifted around some activities in Byrum’s typical itinerary, the group will still be able to do everything on Mackinac Island in September that it was planning to do in May. And, who knows, maybe they’ll find out they like Mackinac Island in the fall even better!
“It has been a lot of phone calls and emails cancelling everything for May and trying to fit into the fall schedules that were already scheduled months ago,” Byrum said. “They’ve been fantastic up there. They want the business. They’ve been more than accommodating.”
Mackinac Island’s places to stay and attractions are ready to work with you on rescheduling your visit
Byrum rescheduled hotel stays at the Inn of Mackinac. He rescheduled tours of Fort Mackinac. Instead of going on a horse-drawn carriage tour in the morning, his group will do that one afternoon. And instead of touring Mackinac Island’s historic Grand Hotel before they have lunch there, they’ll tour the hotel after lunch one day.
Because the sun sets on Mackinac Island earlier in September than it does in May, evening activities that Byrum has planned for the group will change a little, too. The bike ride all the way around the outer rim of Mackinac Island will get an earlier start, as will an evening hike up to Fort Holmes, the War of 1812 stronghold that sits atop the island’s highest point.
Even though the changes are a “major tweak” to Byrum’s six-page itinerary, it’s worth the effort because “it’s a passion of mine to share such a special place” with students and their families.
“It’s such a unique pleasant place. I think it’s magical,” he said. “As always, it will be a wonderful place to visit and, this year, to escape.”
Stay up to date on Mackinac Island’s 2020 season
The Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau is posting 2020 Season Updates on a regular basis to keep you up to speed on the latest opening dates as well as any event cancellations. You also can find updated COVID-19 information for details on the precautions being taken on Mackinac Island to keep everybody safe during the pandemic, and answers to questions you may have about visiting this year.
Byrum hopes his rescheduled group trip to Mackinac Island can happen in September. As for 2021, he’s already making plans for trips next spring.