No fear of heights here: Holland roofer wins tickets for tour of the top of the Mackinac Bridge towers

Art Tolsma of Holland has been climbing ladders and fixing roofs for more than 30 years, so he’s right at home in high places. But 552 feet above the Straits of Mackinac, looking out from the main towers of the Mighty Mac?

“It sounds like the most fun in the world to me,” said Talsma, all smiles, on Wednesday, Dec. 21, at the Felt Mansion, 6597 138th Ave. in Laketown Township.

Tolsma won the Friends of the Felt Estate fundraising raffle for a certificate for two tickets to tour the towers of the Mackinac Bridge.

The Felt Estate was one of 25 non-profits around the state selected by the Mackinac Bridge Authority to receive a tower tour certificate to be raffled or auctioned for charitable purposes. The certificates can be used May 1 through Oct. 15 and are good for two people.

Tickets were sold from November through December as a fundraiser for the historic mansion. The event sold 165 tickets and raised $3,400, according to Felt Estate Operations Director Patty Meyer.

“We appreciate the Mackinac Bridge Authority doing this,” she said. “This is a great way to support Michigan non-profits.”

Tolsma is a founder of TNT Roofing, Inc., 1895 Russell Court, Holland.

“I’m used to being up in the air,” he laughed.

He wanted the trip so badly that he purchased 50 tickets for $1,000 and is glad the money is going to the Felt Mansion.

He’s not sure yet who will join him in the more than 500-foot trip up the towers on the bridge between the state’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas.

Tolsma’s ticket was the second winning ticket drawn.

On Saturday, Dec. 17, the Rev. Rod Brandsen of Gibson Church, 6486 140th Ave., drew the first winner from the spinning cylinder at the mansion before a holiday tour. That winner, though, didn’t want the certificate.

“The first winner declined the prize, so according to the Michigan Charitable Gaming regulations, another ticket was drawn at random,” said Meyer. That was Tolsma’s ticket.

The Friends of the Felt estate is a 501c3 non-profit membership organization bringing people together to protect, to enhance and to enjoy the places that matter.

The Felt Mansion was built in 1925 by Dorr Felt, inventor of the Comptometer, a basic adding machine. After Felt’s death, the property was purchased by the St. Augustine Seminary for a school then, in the 1970s, by the State of Michigan to use as a prison. After the prison and Michigan State Police post that was in the mansion closed in the 1990s, Laketown Township purchased the property.

For the past 20 years, the Friends of the Felt Estate, led by Meyer, has restored the mansion to its 1920’s splendor. For more on the mansion, visit

Art Tolsma, left, accepts the winning certificate on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022, for a trip for two to the top of a Mackinac Bridge tower. Presenting the certificate is Felt Estate Operations Director Patty Meyer at the mansion, 6597 138th Ave.