Imagine a hot summer night while enjoying an ice cream cone or celebrating the end of a great day at the beach, listening to your favorite tunes accompanied by dancing streams of water and color. While the lakeshore city of Grand Haven offers a variety of restaurants, shops, two beautiful public beaches, and a brewery, they also offer–a musical fountain.
The Musical Fountain draws hundreds of thousands of visitors every summer (including the Fourth of July and Coast Guard Festival activities). The best viewing spot for the Fountain is the waterfront stadium, located on the channel (if you visit for the Fourth or Coast Guard Festival, be sure to claim your spot early).
During the summer (Memorial Day through Labor Day), shows run every night of the week. After Labor Day, the fountain performances occur Friday and Saturday nights until the end of September. These evening showings occur just after sunset, usually a little before 10 pm. The Fountain performances are free to attend, but visitors are welcome to make a freewill donation to help maintain the Fountain and ensure that guests can continue to enjoy the show in the future.
The music synced to the Fountain’s movements and colors can be quite a variety, particularly so because the public has the option of creating their own fountain shows via a free software download, in addition, of course, to a great group of volunteers who help finalize the selections of music. By using the software, the City of Grand Haven has accepted music suggestions from all over the world, including a gentleman from Japan. “There [are] no shows that are the same, [but] some songs will be integrated into multiple shows,” says Dan Vivian, the administrative liaison for the Musical Fountain.
Grand Haven’s Musical Fountain turns fifty years old this year. To celebrate this semicentennial event, every Wednesday evening this summer, the Fountain show is set to the original music selections (“big box music, the classic show”).
The Musical Fountain was inspired into being when a gentleman from the Grand Haven observed a similar fountain overseas. At the time of its construction, it was considered one of the world’s largest musical fountains. In recent decades, the Fountain itself “hasn’t changed a lot,” but now “everything’s run off a computer.” However, Vivian adds, “All of the piping is original and two out of the three pumps are original.”
The city of Grand Haven presents elaborate fireworks performances for both the Fourth of July and the annual Coast Guard Festival. Prior to these fireworks, the Musical Fountain presents special holiday themed shows. Whether you visit the city for the holidays or just a day out at the beach, the next time you’re in downtown Grand Haven, be sure to catch a performance by the Musical Fountain!
~Amy Page, Feature Writer.