Saving Christmas!

– By Elaine West, first printed in NorthernIslander – Jan. 2006

Back in 2006 it looked as if Christmas would just have to be put “on hold” this year. After weeks of typical cold and snowy December weather, a unexpected shroud of fog descended. For two days, holiday travelers had been stranded in Charlevoix and on the Island awaiting a break in the weather.

The last ferry had already run and operations were pretty well shut down, with the Charlevoix shuttle bus put away, the boat crew dismissed for the season, and even some repairs started on the boat. The airports on both sides were filled with hopeful passengers. But by mid-morning on Christmas Eve, anxious phone call between those stranded and those keeping turkeys on hold were the only things flying between the mainland and Beaver Island.

Many a prayer went up to let the weather clear. My own was said atop Mt. Pisgah where I gazed at the gray horizon and felt certain that no planes would be flying on that dismal day.

Happy homecoming on Christmas Eve.

Mike and Suzi Myers greet grandson Andrew on Christmas Eve.

But good will triumphed during this season of miracles and a host of heaven-sent folks went to work on the details. It was a scene much like the one in the classic “Miracle on 34th Street.” But in Beaver Island’s version, it wasn’t Gimble and Macy shaking hands – it was the folks from Island Airways and the Boat Company who combined their efforts to make everyone’s Christmas wishes come true!

“It was 100 percent, unprecedented cooperation between Island Airways and the Boat Company,” said Bill McDonough. “It wasn’t about making money. It was about doing the right thing.”

What followed was just short of a Christmas miracle, a “Christmas ship” carrying all the stranded holiday travelers to the Island. Both Island Airways and the Boat Company crew and employees helped load the passengers, holiday mail and packages aboard. The Emerald Island arrived on the Island and everyone turned out to greet them.

For the whole story of Beaver Island Christmas Ship, see the December issue of NorthernIslander. And a Happy Thanksgiving to all!