The following article was copied from an editor post on the Glen Arbor Sun, Dec. 11th 2020 and January 4th, 2021
The number of people who visited Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in 2020 was 1,718,696. This is the first time that visitation has topped 1.7 million.
Sleeping Bear visitation topped the previous record (1,683,553 in 2016) already in November. So the 20,756 who visited the National Lakeshore in December were just icing on the cake.
National parks, and outdoor spaces, in general, have been a crucial outlet for Americans during the pandemic of 2020.
National parks may be more important this year than ever before, said Rob Wallace, assistant secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior, during a visit to Sleeping Bear on Sept. 15. Wallace was in town to learn how the Great American Outdoors Act, signed into law on August 4, could expand recreational opportunities and address long overdue infrastructure and modernization challenges for this and other parks.
Deputy Superintendent Tom Ulrich didn’t know exactly which visitor broke the record, in which location and on which day. But just for fun, Ulrich did his best impersonation of Ernie Harwell, the late Detroit Tigers radio announcer who would famously name the hometown (always in Michigan) of each fan who caught a foul ball in Tiger Stadium or Comerica Park.
“On the balmy afternoon of November 20, 2020, the 1,683,554th visitor of the year leapt out of their car and raced up the Dune Climb, setting a new visitation record for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore,” said Ulrich with a chuckle.
“That visitor from Mio, Michigan, likely didn’t know they were setting a record, just enjoying their National Park on an unseasonably warm Friday in November.”