MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. — Cars have been banned on Mackinac Island for over a century. It's an old tradition that aims to preserve the quaint, historic nature of Mackinac. 

But on Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence broke that ban with an eight-car motorcade as he attended the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference. 

The Detroit Free Press reported on the vehicles, saying it was the first motorcade on the island ever. The train of cars was mostly black SUVs. 

Pence was a keynote speaker at the conference, which draws Michigan Republicans and GOP party leader to the historic Mackinac Island every other year. He is the first vice president to go to attend the event.

The Associated Press said Pence flew to Michigan, took a helicopter to a small airport on the island and transferred to the vehicles, which were brought by bought the night before. 

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Mackinac Island only allows horse-drawn buggies, bikes and foot traffic. There are some emergency vehicles on the island as well. The Free Press reported that there have been a few exceptions to the ban over the years. 

The motorcade was the topic of much discussion on social media over the weekend. Julia Pulver, a Democratic state Senate candidate in 2018, criticized the motorcade, calling it a "huge transgression."

When President Gerald Ford visited the island in 1975, he traveled by horse-drawn carriage. Supporters of Pence, including State Rep. Beau LaFave, said security is a much bigger concern now. 

The conference is held at the historic Grand Hotel and it runs through Sunday. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was also invited to speak at the event. 

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The Associated Press contributed to this reporting.

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