EMPIRE, Mich. (AP) — Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in northern Michigan has welcomed its 50 millionth visitor.

The National Park Service says other visitors applauded when Meghan Boertman entered Sleeping Bear's visitor center in Empire, west of Traverse City. She was joined by her husband, Spencer, and their children, Jacoby and Levi.

It was the first visit for the Boertmans, who live in Norton Shores, near Muskegon. They received an annual park pass, along with a plush black bear, souvenir books and a DVD.

Officials say the milestone comes a year ahead of Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore's 50th anniversary. Visitor statistics are culled from road, visitor center and campground counters as well as North and South Manitou islands.

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