The Grand Haven boardwalk celebrates its 30th anniversary this weekend

Marie Havenga • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:57 PM

The celebration runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers parking lot off Harbor Drive. There will be free hot dogs, chips, water, face painting, t-shirt making and more.


At 1 p.m., the crowd will move to Waterfront Stadium for a program that will include presentations by former Grand Haven leaders and U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, who was instrumental in getting federal funds for the boardwalk project in the early 1980s.


Organizer Ken Formsma said Saturday's event is a thank you to the community and other key players in the boardwalk's creation, including the Corps.


Since its construction in 1984, the boardwalk has become an iconic part of the local landscape. It’s a haven for walkers, bikers, skaters and lovers strolling arm-in-arm.


Back in 1967, then-Grand Haven Mayor Bill Creason and a volunteer waterfront committee made waterfront improvement and pedestrian passage to the pier a primary goal.


At that time, the waterfront was blighted with old factories, coal docks and unsightly wood pilings.


Creason spearheaded the Musical Fountain construction in 1962 and wanted nothing more than an attractive and inviting landscape from which visitors could watch the spouting star performer.


By the early 1980s — despite a recession — City Council hired engineering plans for the Lighthouse Connector Park and named Ken Formsma chief fundraiser.


Through various community fundraisers and $3.5 million from the federal government, construction began the following year.


After three decades, the boardwalk continues to be a focal point in the community, Formsma said.


“We have something nobody else has,” he said. “We can walk along the Grand River and end up at Lake Michigan. People have recognized we have something special. It's a community pride. We have something we can be very, very proud of.”


To read more of this story, see today's print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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