Winter fun set for this weekend in Grand Haven

Alex Doty • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:20 AM

t organization that puts on the annual event. “I’m just glad we’re not called ‘Snowfest.’”

Even with the mild weather and lack of snow, Galbavi said the festival will go on beginning Thursday and ending Sunday.

Organizers said they are excited about the new Polar Plunge event benefiting the Tri-Cities Area Habitat for Humanity. It takes place at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Chinook Pier docks.

“It’s a great fit into the fun lineup of Winterfest events and is also helping a great cause,” Galbavi said.

Jill Nicholson, resource coordinator for the local Habitat for Humanity chapter, said 20 people have signed up to participate in the Polar Plunge as of Monday.

“We’ve got a few people who’ve raised more than $400,” she said.

Nicholson said proceeds from the plunge into the chilly Grand River will go toward Habitat house No. 52, which is slated for construction later this year.

“We’re encouraging our plungers to dress up in a silly costume and go to Chinook Pier,” she said.

Nicholson said the event will have a warming tent with hot chocolate, and the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety will be on hand to provide assistance in the event of an emergency.

“It’s basically a goofy thing to do during Winterfest,” Nicholson said.

Nicholson added that officials have an alternate location picked out in the event that conditions aren’t favorable at the Chinook Pier site.

The Winterfest Kids’ Day is being moved from the Grand Haven Community Center to the Tri-Cities Family YMCA from 1-4 p.m. Saturday.

“We’re thrilled to be working with the Y this year for Kids’ Day,” Galbavi said. “The Kiwanis Club, together with the YMCA, are really going to make it a great time for the kids. Plus, it moves the event closer to the (Family) Dog Pull and Cardboard Sled Race, which are at Mulligan’s Hollow. Families can go right from one event to another.”

While there are some new events and some changes to Winterfest, much of the lineup remains the same. This year’s festival includes returning events such as the Intergalactic Human Sled Race, which takes place downtown on Friday night at 8; the Family Dog Pull from 9:30-11 a.m. and the Cardboard Sled Race at 11 a.m. Saturday, both at Mulligan’s Hollow; the waterfront luau at 7 p.m. Saturday; a ski and snowboard competition at 1 p.m. Sunday; and a snow angel decorating contest at 3 p.m. Sunday.

“We really do strive to make this winter fun for everyone — like we say on the brochure,” Galbavi said.

According to Galbavi, even if the area is light on snow, they will be able to hold events such as the downtown sled race.

“We usually have to truck snow in to cover the street for this event,” Galbavi explained. “This isn’t the first year that we’ve been light on snow. Less snow means less shoveling for the volunteers, so there’s a bright side.”

The event was moved last year from Washington Avenue to First Street due to the installation of the downtown snowmelt system, and the event will be held on First Street again this year.

Winterfest officials will also be offering a shuttle service from downtown Grand Haven to the events at Mulligan’s Hollow on Saturday.

“New this year, we’re marking designated stops for the shuttles by parking lots on Washington and Franklin streets, and the trolley will be making the rounds all day,” Galbavi said.

A map of the shuttle route and a full slate of Winterfest events is available online at www.winterfestonline.org.

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