Little Traverse Bay – that portion of Lake Michigan that flows between Petoskey and Harbor Springs, is known for a couple of things: Harbor Springs’ deep freshwater harbor; a break wall that is perfect for strolling on when the weather is right; the Little Traverse Bay Regatta; and crystal clear waters that resemble the Caribbean. You may have already known all that – none are big secrets. But did you know about the underwater crucifix?
Yes, there really is a crucifix – an 11’ high crucifix with a 5’ 5” figure of Jesus, submerged in the waters off Petoskey’s shore by the softball field.
Made of Italian marble, the crucifix was not originally headed to the bottom of the bay. It was built to the specifications of bereaved parents who ordered the memorial to honor their young son who had passed away following an accident. The cross was damaged in shipping and the Superior Marine Divers Club obtained and fixed the broken pieces and placed it in the bay in 1962 as a shrine to divers.
In 1984, the crucifix was carefully moved to a shallower spot, where it has remained ever since. Over the years, the arm of Jesus was broken, and even lost for a while. But year after year, a small group of men – dwindled now to half a dozen or so – has kept vigil over the shrine, maintaining it as they are able.
That same dedicated group tries to once a year give non-divers a chance to see the awesome figure. Usually in February or March, they’ll pick a Saturday when all conditions are right to carve a hole in the ice, allowing people to walk out the several yards and see the figure (which they backlight).
Unfortunately, Mother Nature is not cooperating this year. The odds that the “Viewing of the Crucifix,” as the locals call it, will take place in 2020 are pretty slim. Still, it’s nice to know that maybe next year, hundreds of us may have a chance to see the cross, which was once misguided and is now exactly where it was meant to be.
About the author
Diane Dakins is passionate about all the lakeside communities that comprise the Petoskey Area of northern Michigan: Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Bay Harbor and Boyne City. As assistant director of the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau, she has “been there – seen that” when it comes to virtually every area attraction. Her blogs give potential visitors the scoop on planning a northern Michigan vacation.