Man celebrates 97th birthday by climbing trail bridge

Polly Ann 004

Most people celebrate their birthday by eating cake and opening gifts.

Not Ray Johnson.

To celebrate his 97th birthday, the longtime Oxford resident set foot on the Polly Ann Trail pedestrian bridge (which crosses over M-24) for the first time Oct. 3.

“I saw this built around 10 years ago and I always wanted to walk on it,” said Johnson, who actually turned 97 on Oct. 10.

Johnson’s trek across the bridge shows there is always an adventure to be had, even within your own backyard, and you’re never too old to achieve your goals.

Accompanied by his daughter, Metamora resident Kathy Wichman, and his granddaughter, Christine Ellis, Johnson made the steep climb up and across the 100-foot-long bridge.

The Polly Ann pedestrian bridge was erected in 2006 to help trail users safely cross the always-busy Michigan highway.

It’s a lot smaller than I thought it would be,” said Johnson when he arrived at the top of the bridge.

While the bridge might not have quite lived up to his expectations, Johnson wasn’t ready to call it quits. He eagerly told Wichman and Ellis that he wanted to continue on the trail.

They walked for another mile or so.

“I’m proud of him,” Wichman said. “At 97, he does pretty well. I expected, with the slope leading up to the bridge, he’d have to rest and he just walked the whole way up without a pause. I think he did just great. I thought it was kind of cool that the other day he said, ‘I’ve never been up on that bridge and I want to go up there.’ So we decided to make it happen.”


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