Fascinated residents prepare to view underwater crucifix

Diving enthusiast Dennis Jessick holds up a picture of the underwater crucifix before Saturday's viewing on Little Traverse Bay.

This Saturday, hundreds of people will make the 1,200 foot trek out onto the ice to see the crucifix deep in the waters of Little Traverse Bay.

The eleven-foot crucifix is made out of Italian marble and lays 22 feet below the water's surface.

Diving enthusiasts Dennis Jessick and Rick Hoig have been hosting the viewing of the underwater crucifix since 1986.

"It's incredible from how it got there to why its there," said Jessick. "You're talking to people from around the world that happen to be coming into town that look out there and see the tremendous line of people and their wondering whatâ??s going on."

The crucifix was made in Italy in 1962. It was meant as a memorial for a Michigan boy who died in a farming accident.

When the crucifix was damaged in its journey to the states, the boy's parents no longer wanted it.

It was eventually bought at auction and later put in its current resting place by members of the Michigan Skin Diving Council.

"That kind of gives you a sense for how rare of an opportunity it is and how unique it is to our area to have something like this that lays beneath the surface of these beautiful waters that we enjoy every day," said Emmet County Director of Communication Beth Eckerle.

The crucifix also serves as a monument to swimmers and divers who have been lost in these waters.

A tent for the viewing will be set up over the exact location of the crucifix. A 4-by-2 foot hole will be cut through the ice and six steel viewports will be fitted over it, allowing spectators to get an up close look at the crucifix below.

The free viewing begins at 11 on Saturday morning.

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