- Associated Press - Friday, May 13, 2016

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - The Great Lakes Children’s Museum in Traverse City now has its own “Mini-Mac,” a smaller version of the Mackinac Bridge connecting Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas.

The two-level, 13-by-20-foot steel replica of the real bridge, which is nicknamed “Big Mac” or “Mighty Mac,” went up last month. A mural behind it of the Straits of Mackinac, based on drawings by art students, began taking shape this month, the Traverse City Record-Eagle (http://bit.ly/22431y3 ) reported.

Michael Long, the museum’s executive director, said visitors will eventually be able to use the bridge to access the museum. He envisions mini mile markers and welcome signs posted at the Mackinac City and St. Ignace ends along the bridge.

Students from Interlochen Arts Academy designed and painted the mural. The images depict a fox, a porcupine and a Petoskey stone on the Lower Peninsula side, and a moose, a bear and pine trees on the Upper Peninsula side.

“Having this chance to help the community is really great,” Interlochen student Sam Thiele said. “And we don’t often get to work on something this large.”

The bridge was designed, built and installed by Traverse City-based construction company Team Elmer’s and Onaway-based steel fabricator Moran Iron Works and its Industrial Arts Institute.

“This is the first of a couple different outreach projects we’re doing in the next couple years,” said Megan Hildebrandt, Interlochen instructor of painting and visual media. “We wanted to start with something bold.”

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Information from: Traverse City Record-Eagle, http://www.record-eagle.com

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