It may be hard to pronounce, but Ah-Nab-Awen Park (which means “Resting Place”) in downtown Grand Rapids hosts several unique events in the summer. Once the site of a Native American village, the park began as a bicentennial project; Ah-Nab-Awen is located next to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum along the banks of the Grand River. The park exhibits numerous pieces of art and interpretive markers, and it is also the site of some artwork for the ArtPrize festival in the fall.
On Friday nights this summer, Ah-Nab-Awen Park hosts Movies in the Park, a series of free movies that begin at dusk. Sponsored by Celebration! Cinema, the event is presented by Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks. This year’s theme is Films Through Time, featuring a film from a different decade each week. The summer’s schedule is as follows:
July 11- Dreamgirls (1960’s)
July 25- The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1970s)
August 8- Top Gun (1980s)
August 22- Voters’ Choice and Jurassic Park (1990s Double Feature)
The park fills up fast, so get there early for the best seats. Pre-show activities start at 7 PM, with the film beginning at dusk. Costumes are encouraged, and prizes will be awarded to the best dressed attendees. You are encouraged to bring a picnic to the park, but if you forget food, vendors are on-site. “The park opens at 7 PM each movie night with pre-movie entertainment that coincides with each movie theme. Each pre-movie entertainment is different. No Movie in the Park night is exactly the same. We do anything from live ice-carvings, to car shows, to dance lessons, fencing lessons, live music, costume contests, etc. It all depends on what movie is playing,” said Kimberly Van Driel, special events manager for Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. Find more information on the movie night’s Facebook page.
The pre-movie entertainment is always family friendly and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks has their playground available for kids at the park. The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum usually is there with their children’s playground for kids to enjoy, as well.
Ah-Nab-Awen Park is host to many large community-wide festivals including Celebration on the Grand and the Independence Day fireworks. Celebration on the Grand will be held on Friday, July 4th with concerts and entertainment featuring an all-local lineup including some of the great talent in the city and West Michigan. In addition to music, there will be food such as Mongolian Grill and vendors, as well as alcohol. Check out the Celebration’s Facebook for more details.
The Amway Family Fireworks take place on Saturday, July 5th and are free to the public. The event includes family activities, games, food trucks, vendors exhibits, music, and entertainment that runs through the fireworks display, which begins about 10:30 PM. The music and entertainment will be in the evening starting at 6 PM, and Re/Max of Grand Rapids is sponsoring the Family Fun Zone from 2 PM until 9 PM at Ah-Nab-Awen Park. The family-fun activities include old-fashioned games, a photo booth, and more. Starting at 5:45 PM, Re/Max’s signature 72-foot tall hot air balloon will delight the crowds.
With so much happening at Ah-Nab-Awen Park this Summer, why not check it out?